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Scholars attending the International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds heard today about the role of graffiti in the Middle Ages. In 2010, graffiti is widely seen as an eyesore and an act of vandalism, holding for many distinctly negative connotations. Like today, graffiti was common in the medieval society. However, it held an entirely different significance.
Rebecca Williams, from the University of Liverpool, will tell the IMC that in a paper-short world, graffiti offers an invaluable and unique insight into the thoughts and popular culture of medieval society.
Often found on the walls, pillars and arches of medieval churches, surviving graffiti can shed light on very specific parts of medieval life, such as the function of the church or the way people practised their devotions.
“This research looks at a familiar practise that is widely condemned today, but one that is less familiar in a medieval context, where the use and purpose of graffiti was rather different than in modern times,” said Williams.
Williams’ paper, ‘The Writings on the Wall: Scratching the Surface of Late Medieval Graffiti’ was presented earlier today. In May, she also gave a paper entitled, ‘Location, Location, Location: Contextualising the graffiti of the late medieval church’ at the University of Liverpool, where she is currently working on her PhD dissertation, The cultural implications of English medieval graffiti.
The International Medieval Congress (IMC)is currently running until July 15th and is the largest academic conference in the UK, drawing over 1,500 scholars from around the world. It offers a unique forum for lively discussion and debate on some of the most interesting part of our medieval past, with this year’s special theme being Travel and Exploration.
Source: University of Leeds