CMEMS at Stanford University launched a new major initiative to advance the study of medieval and early modern culture with a special emphasis on its primary sources.

For more information about the upcoming 2023 Primary Source Symposium, click here. 

The Primary Source Symposium will be a dynamic resource for scholars and students, and all those interested in the early periods. It will facilitate and enhance the communication and collaboration between all participants, providing a foundation for enhancing our vibrant intellectual community.

At the core of medieval and early modern studies are the material remains of a multitude of cultures that prevailed from ca. 500 to 1750 across the world. These remains are themselves as diverse as the cultures that produced them: reliquaries, manuscripts, books, paintings, churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques, castles and palaces, jewelry, weaponry, and textiles. These relics insist on our full engagement and deep appreciation. The yearly symposiums aim to provide the space for reflection, interpretation, analysis, and scholarly exchange.


The Primary Source Symposium will

  • provide a forum for showcasing Stanford's excellent collections in medieval and early modern, such as manuscripts, incunabula, artwork, and early printed books. It not only raises the profile of these objects and their study but it also embeds them in an international nexus of material and scholarly culture by fostering connections between them, between the academic community's work, and with other institutions and their holdings;
  • support cutting-edge research by bringing together scholars and students across disciplines to explore and challenge on-going debates in the fields of medieval and early modern studies and the sources we all employ;
  • provide a framework and context for courses, workshops, and exhibits that expose Stanford undergraduates to the material remains of cultures that may seem historically and culturally removed from their own;
  • be a major interdisciplinary research portal for all scholars on campus working on world history from 500 to 1750;
  • draw in graduate students, faculty, and interested members of the community, enabling public engagement and highlighting the many benefits of working and studying here.

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