CARMEN Homepage

CARMEN is a research consortium of universities, research centers, academic associations, and individuals dedicated to the study of the Middle Ages (ca. 400-1500 CE). As its acronym suggests, CARMEN originally was conceived as a European enterprise; today, however, it is a global initiative, with collaborators from Europe, North America, East Asia, Australasia and Latin America. CARMEN encourages and promotes major scholarly projects in Medieval Studies, advocates for medieval and humanistic research funding and support, disseminates information, collaborates with national associations and major conferences [link], and organizes an annual meeting. Its publishing arm is Arc Humanities Press whose site we share.

The date of the half-yearly virtual meeting of the executive is 5 February 2020 at:

Boston 9.00 am
London/Dublin/Portugal 2.00 pm
CET 15:00
Finland 16:00

Upcoming Meeting

  • Dublin (Ireland) – 27-28 August 2020

Past Meetings

  • Prague (Czech Republic) – 4-5 September 2019
  • Tampere (Finland) – 26-28 August 2018
  • Gent (Belgium) – 22-24 September 2017
  • Essen (Germany) – 9-11 September 2016
  • Sarajevo (Bosnia-Hercegovina) – 11-13 September 2015
  • Stirling (Scotland, UK) – 12-13 September 2014
  • Porto (Portugal) – 13-15 September 2013
  • Budapest (Hungary) – 7-9 September 2012
  • Madrid and Segovia (Spain) – 9-11 September 2011
  • Tallinn (Estonia) – 17-19 September 2010
  • Krems (Austria) – 11-13 September 2009
  • Poitiers (France) – 19-21 September 2008
  • Prato (Italy) – 28-30 September 2007
  • and its founding meeting in Budapest, spring 2007.

The CARMEN Project Prize is distinctive in that it recognises a project idea in any area of Medieval Studies, which has the potential to advance our understanding of the medieval period or its reception in important and/or innovative ways. The Prize aims to identify excellent projects in development, supporting them as they grow and potentially seek external funding. The Prize thus aligns with the distinctive mission of CARMEN as an organisation, which aims to foster ideas and collaborations, support projects in their early stages, and function as a laboratory and incubator for new work in Medieval Studies.

2019 Prize

The winner of the CARMEN Project Prize, for a project idea / project in development in Medieval Studies is Philippa Byrne (Faculty of History, University of Oxford), for ‘Listening for the Middle Ages’: a project which aims to develop a series of medieval soundscapes for use in research and education. The judges were impressed by the importance and timeliness of the proposed project, and the clear strategic framework already in place. The research questions are clear and compelling, making a persuasive case for this strongly interdisciplinary project, which explores the Middle Ages in fresh and innovative ways.
Again, in 2019, the quality of entries was such that the judges awarded a discretionary Special Commendation award. The Special Commendation goes to Joris Roosen (Utrecht University) and his team for ‘The Black Death Digital Archive’. The judges were impressed with the cross-national reach of the project (both in its research team and the global reach of its research), and its potential to advance our understanding of the second plague pandemic using a multidisciplinary portal for both experts and the public. The project also shows the potential for exciting work bringing together Medieval Studies and the Medical Humanities.
Many congratulations to our winners, and thank you to all those who entered, who have each received individual feedback. The CARMEN Project Prize will run again in 2021. In 2020 we will hear updates from previous winners, and provide opportunities for workshopping potential Prize entries at our annual meeting in Ireland.

2018 Prize

The competition received 23 entries, from scholars at varying career stages and from across the world. The judges were impressed by the very high quality of project ideas, and excited to see the wide range of important and impactful projects in Medieval Studies currently in development.

All applicants have now been contacted with their result, and with brief feedback on their entry. Many thanks to all those who took the time to enter.

CARMEN Project Prize Winner
We are delighted to announce that the winner of the CARMEN Project Prize, 2018, is James Smith (Trinity College, Dublin), for the project ‘Pre-modern Manuscripts and Early Books in Conflict Zones’. This project, framed around capacity-building in the form of a COST Action application, will establish a set of themes that raise awareness of medieval and early modern manuscripts and early books under threat from conflict, and their need for protection. It interrogates the cultural phenomena surrounding the creation and destruction of written heritage, as well as the received scientific and cultural beliefs of conservators and digitisers. The project will provide mechanisms for events and meetings addressing three prospective challenges to be explored within the COST Action, equipping scholars with a diverse set of skills, and merging scientific and practical approaches. The project is collaborative, involving an international steering group from the Universities of Leiden and Bergen, the UK National Archives, and the University of Applied Science, Potsdam.

The judges were extremely impressed by the importance and timeliness of the proposed project, and the clear strategic framework already in place (including the international steering team and objectives for securing future funding). The research questions are clear and compelling, making a persuasive case that a focus on written heritage in conflict zones is long overdue. As winner of the bursary of €350, James will now join CARMEN for its Annual Meeting in Tampere, Finland, in August 2018, for a prize presentation ceremony, and to lead a workshop on his project. Many congratulations to James and his project team.

Special Commendation Awards
Due to the exceptional quality of entries in the 2018 competition, the judges also made the decision to make two further ‘Special Commendation’ awards for outstanding project ideas. The recipients will each receive a €100 bursary to support attendance at the CARMEN Annual Meeting and workshopping of ideas.

Elizabeth L’Estrange (University of Birmingham) receives a Special Commendation for her project, ‘Redefining Women and the Book in the Middle Ages (c. 800-1600)’. This project reassesses the relationship between women and book culture in the European middle ages (broadly defined) by moving scholarship beyond the traditional focus, first put forward in the 1980s, on devotional manuscripts owned by aristocratic Christian women from France, England and Burgundy between the mid-fourteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth. By analysing a greater variety of women (e.g. non-elite, non-Christian) across a broader chronological (c. 800- 1600) and geographical range (e.g. Scandinavia, Iberia, Eastern Europe), it will offer a more nuanced understanding of women’s interaction with written culture as readers, patrons, writers and translators, c. 800-1600. The judges were impressed with the distinctive, innovative methodology proposed, as well as the project’s timeliness and clear cross-disciplinary reach and international significance.

Paul B. Sturtevant (The Smithsonian Institution / The Public Medievalist) receives a Special Commendation for his proposal, ‘The Public Medievalcast, Season 1: Borders’. This podcast is a venture into a new, medium by the team at The Public Medievalist, a popular web-zine that seeks to present the latest research in medieval studies in a way that is free, accessible, and enjoyable for a broad popular audience. The topic for our first season is extremely timely: ‘Borders’. Ideas of borders—between nations, religions, genders, and more—are continually in popular discourses today. But most discuss them uncritically. This podcast will present medieval histories of some of these borders, as a way of exploring with more nuance the invisible barriers erected around our lives. The judges were struck by the ambition and innovation of this project proposal, building on the great success and impact of the Public Medievalist presence online. The proposed theme for Season 1, ‘Borders’, is particularly timely and important.

Many congratulations to Elizabeth, Paul, and their collaborators.

The executive committee comprises:

  • Catherine Clarke, School of Advanced Studies, London – Academic Director
  • Lisa Fagin Davis, Medieval Academy of America
  • Sean Gilsdorf, Harvard
  • Christian Krötzl, Tampere
  • Axel Müller, Leeds
  • Maria Cristina Pimenta, Porto
  • Felicitas Schmieder, FernUniversität Hagen – treasurer
  • James L. Smith, Trinity College Dublin
  • Nada Zecevic, Goldsmiths London
  • Simon Forde, Arc Humanities Press, ex officio
  • Robert E. Bjork, Arizona State – designated representative on Arc Humanities Press board