Thomas Becket: Life, Death, & Legacy
An international conference at Canterbury Cathedral
11–14 November 2020
Call for papers
On 29 December 1170 , four of King Henry II's knights murdered Archbishop Thomas Becket inside Canterbury Cathedral. News of this sacrilegious violence spread quickly and, in a matter of months, this merchant’s son from Cheapside had transformed into one of the most famous martyrs in medieval Europe. Supported by the circulation of new liturgies, miracle stories, sacred objects and holy relics, the cult of Becket dominated the sacred landscape of Christendom, stretching from Trondheim (Norway) to Monreale (Sicily) and reaching from Reykjavik (Iceland) to Tarsus (Turkey). His cult also attracted devotion from all ranks of society. Before the destruction of his shrine during the Reformation in 1538, innumerable pilgrims, including peasants, kings, lepers, monks, prisoners, mothers, and soldiers, ventured to Canterbury and returned with their very own relics and souvenirs. From Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales to T.S. Eliot's Murder in a Cathedral, the stories of Becket's martyrdom and of the pilgrims who journeyed to Canterbury have continued to captivate the public imagination.
The year 2020 marks the 850th anniversary of Becket's martyrdom and the 800th anniversary ofthe translation of his body into the Trinity Chapel of Canterbury Cathedral. To commemorate his extraordinary life and legacy at Canterbury, scholars at Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury Christ Church University, and the University of Kent will co-host an academic conference at Canterbury Cathedral from 11–14 November 2020.
With this call for papers, we welcome participation from scholars at any stage of their career on research related to the history, visual and material culture, archaeology, architecture, literature, liturgy, musicology, and/or reception of Becket's cult both at Canterbury and/or within a wider European context. In addition to being interdisciplinary, we also hope that this conference embraces an inclusive chronology of scholarship on the medieval, early modern, and modern period.
If you would like to share your research on Becket on this special occasion, please submit an abstract of no more than 350 words with your proposed title, name, and affiliation to CanterburyBecket2020@gmail.com by Monday 21 October 2019. Each paper will be 30 minutes in length and we are hoping to produce an edited collection after the conference. If you have any questions about this conference, please contact Dr Emily Guerry (E.Guerry@kent.ac.uk) or Prof Louise Wilkinson (Louise.Wilkinson@Canterbury.ac.uk).