Call for Papers: "Beauty and the Beast: Imagery from the Medieval Bestiary

Session Title: “"Beauty and the Beast: Imagery from the Medieval Bestiary"

Session Organizer:  Elizabeth Morrison (Senior Curator of Manuscripts, J. Paul Getty Museum)

The role of animals in the Middle Ages has recently become a popular topic for research in all realms of medieval studies. Given this interest, it seems a good time to turn attention to perhaps the most important source of information about animals in the period, the bestiary. The animal stories contained in the bestiary were used as inspiration for public sermons, daily reading for the religious, and entertainment by the nobility, thereby exerting a powerful hold over the understanding and interpretation of animals in the medieval world. This session would propose to focus in particular on the influential role of the imagery associated with the bestiary. The bestiary is one of a very small number of medieval texts that seems to be almost invariably accompanied by illumination, and with a more even balance between image and text than is found in almost any other surviving manuscript tradition. The stable iconography of the bestiary was so well-known, in fact, that it was instantly recognizable, even when separated from its accompanying text; examples such as a lion breathing life into its cubs or the pelican piercing its own breast to revive its chicks can be found in the visual arts well beyond the bestiary. Papers for this session could address the text/image relationship in the bestiary, illuminated texts that are often bound together with the bestiary, non-bestiary texts that are accompanied by bestiary imagery, or other artistic media that integrate iconography traditionally associated with bestiaries

Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words (for a paper planned to be 15-20 minutes), along with the conference Participant Information Form, to Elizabeth Morrison at * * by September 18, 2015. Any proposals not accepted for this session will be sent on to for consideration in one of the general sessions at Kalamazoo.

The Participant Information Form can be found on the Congress website: