For four days in May, some 3,000 of the world’s leading scholars on all topics medieval will converge on the Western Michigan University campus (Kalamazoo, MI) for an annual meeting that has become the largest international gathering of its kind.

WMU’s 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies will take place Thursday, May 11, through Sunday, May 14. The event will feature more than 570 sessions in locations across the WMU campus. Presenters will be scholars from 47 states, the District of Columbia and 34 nations. They include faculty members, museum curators and independent scholars, ranging from faculty members at the U.S. Military Academy and Harvard to academics at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World History.

Hundreds of the visitors will live in campus residence halls during the congress, and others will fill hotels throughout the area. For the four days of the event, they’ll eat in dining facilities on the campus and in the wider community.

Congress sessions will focus on topics that range from medieval architecture and coins from the Middle Ages to the way the Middle Ages are portrayed in children’s literature. Sessions also will be held on such perennially favorite topics as the epic poem “Beowulf,” the Crusades and the King Arthur legends. And many sessions focus on the impact of the Middle Ages on modern life and popular culture. One session, for instance, looks at medieval sidekicks and examines sidekick characters in the 1990s films “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” and “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.”

The church of San Lorenzo in Verona, interior (Creative Commons Licence)
The church of San Lorenzo in Verona, interior (Creative Commons Licence)

Dr. Angelo Passuello (Università Ca’ Foscari, Venice), who will be our guest in September at the III cycle of Medieval Studies, will take part to the event electronically with the contribution The church of San Lorenzo in Verona: a “hapax” in the Romanesque architectural context in Europe.

The development of constructive ideas from different cultural backgrounds is one of the characterizing features of Romanesque architecture in Verona. In ancient times the city was at the crossroads of the main routes connecting northern Europe with northeastern Italy (via Postumia, via Gallica, via Claudio-Augusta) and it played a central role in the reception and retransmission of the influences coming from the north of the Alps.

The greatest expression of the meeting between Continental references and local elaboration was reached by the realization of the church of San Lorenzo towards the end of the 11th century. The church is still requiring a rigorous study: my paper aims at filling this historiographical gap on the bases of my Ph.D research. My purpose is to increase the knowledge of one of the most peculiar Romanesque monuments of Northern Italy.

The church of San Lorenzo is a complex building: it shows elements which are not attributable to a single constructive tradition. First, the plant is made up by a large presbytery with three apses, which are in sloping progression with the chapels of the transept (chevet échelloné). Second, two particular round towers are attached to the façade. Third, there are extensive upper galleries running above the aisles. Finally, a refined Venetian sculptural apparatus has been adopted, (especially in the capitals). Architects were able to adopt the incentives offered by the Germanic and the high-Adriatic areas and to adapt them to the medieval constructive techniques typical of Verona, which had been influenced by the numerous classical examples of the Roman period. In this way they produced an original monument, which is without compare.

I will discuss the archeological, historical-artistic and conservative aspects of the church with a multidisciplinary approach: analysis of ancient archival sources, study of restoration documents of the 19th and 20th century, stratigraphy of the walls, chemical analysis of the materials forming the building and use of new technologies (laser-scanner 3D, georadar). As a result, I will make unpublished data about the architectural structure of the church known, in order to trace the cultural relations which make the building remarkable in the context of European Romanesque architecture.


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