Drawing upon the research interests of the Medieval and Early Modern Research Group at the Open University we host an annual conference on the theme of spaces and places, examining life in buildings, institutions and broader geographical areas from a variety of perspectives.
Theoretical approaches have informed new ways of thinking about the social production of space (from Henri Lefebvre to David Harvey) and recent research networks have also stimulated novel approaches to early modern spaces (PALATIUM). Early Modern spaces were mutable and permeable, and new technologies, objects, and social formations played a role in defining spaces as well as identities. The expansion of trade routes and economic networks, the development of the printing press, struggles for territorial power and religious wars, and new diplomatic frameworks, all contributed to new ways of conceptualising geographies and spaces.
Our network builds on previous approaches and seeks to answer two main questions: How were medieval and early modern spaces adapted and transformed through the movement of material and immaterial things? To what extent did an individual’s sense of place depend upon the activities taking place there and how in turn did these create new social groups and identities?
This annual conference is fundamentally interdisciplinary: literary, musical, architectural, artistic, and religious spaces, will be the subjects of enquiry not as discrete or separate entities, but ones which overlapped, came into contact with one another, and at times were in conflict. The creation of boundaries and demarcations in subsequent centuries was often a result of these early approaches to spaces.
Details of previous events can be found here.