Storytelling in Court and Cloister

the SSMLL one-day conference hosted by the Centre for Medieval Studies at the Kings Manor, University of York

2 November, 2013

This interdisciplinary conference will explore ways in which medieval people used stories to make
sense of their world. Literature scholars offer models for thinking about questions of fiction and
narrative within written stories, in imagined or recounted tales, romance and history. Such
models have shaped historical and art historical approaches to the past and memory. This
interdisciplinary conference will draw on this rich field, to think about storytelling within and
beyond the page, by exploring the act of telling stories in a social context.
We will take as our framework the medieval court (legal and political) and the religious cloister,
to explore how individuals or communities used stories to re-imagine or shape their world.
Topics might include: storytelling as an active process, in text, image or speech; the ways in
which circumstances or an awareness of audience compel a story and shape its narrative; the
construction of narrative when arguing a case or asserting a new order; narratology and
storytelling in the middle ages; the relationships between narrative and 'fact', as one may
construct or deconstruct the other; and the self-consciousness of story and its forms as a tool to
engage and to convince, challenge or play.