“Medieval Undergrounds” The 16th Annual Toronto German Studies Symposium 2024 (May 5–7)

“Medieval Undergrounds” The 16th Annual Toronto German Studies Symposium 2024 (May 5–7)

In person / online (registration below)
May 5th–7th, 2024
Paul Cadario Conference Centre at Croft Chapter House,
University College, University of Toronto

Download program here.

Medieval and early modern human interaction with the underground is closely associated with fear and fascination. Widespread associations of the underground with hell, darkness, and death coexisted in premodern and early modern cultures with positive associations of material wealth, spiritual enlightenment, and access to hidden knowledge. This symposium explores the liminal quality of underground spaces and revisits commonly associated dichotomies, such as light vs. dark, material vs. immaterial, and life vs. death. Its focus is on human interaction with the underground, including spiritual, narrative, material and technical aspects, ranging from medieval and early modern conceptualizations of the underground as otherworldly to the natural-technological conditions of resource extraction in these periods.

This symposium’s approach to relations between humans and their physical environment during the Middle Ages and the early modern period, as well as the place of technology within these relations, offers a historically rich perspective on the environmental concerns which have become central to contemporary lifestyles. Rather than seeking the origins of modern issues, beliefs, and attitudes towards the environment, this project analyzes key cultural representations which have contributed to shaping the present situation: from the growing acceptance of the economic and moral value of mining in the late Middle Ages, to individual experiences of the boundaries between surface and underground spaces.

In-person registration here.

If you plan to join remotely, please register for the Zoom meeting here.

If you have any accommodation needs, please contact Helena Juenger at german.gradassistant@utoronto.ca.