International Medieval Congress 2020 goes virtual

The hugely popular International Medieval Congress (IMC) returns – this time as a major digital event.

The International Medieval Congress has gone virtual for 2020

An academic peruses a medieval book. June 2020.

When the unprecedented circumstances of the lockdown forced the cancellation of the physical IMC 2020, the team quickly realised there was a desire among medievalists – and beyond – to continue with the event in some form.

Working from home, and without access to their usual programming tools, team members have had to invent systems and procedures to make the online event a reality. 

While the virtual IMC may have some structural changes compared to the physical iteration of previous years, it also presents an opportunity to find out if the various systems being put to use are able to deliver a good quality event that is rewarding and beneficial to medievalists across the world.

Axel Müller, Director of the International Medieval Congress said: “Medieval Studies has often been leading with modern technology, using computers to scan documents, digitisation of manuscripts, and many more. Dealing with changed circumstances was second nature in the Middle Ages, too.

“We are delighted to show – once again – that when facing challenges, medievalists are willing to rise to this challenge and try out different platforms to engage in ground-breaking discussions and research exchanges.

“It will not be the same as the in-person Congress, but will still be a stimulating and thought-provoking international event of benefit to researchers worldwide.”

Record registrations

This year’s IMC runs from Monday 6 to Friday 10 July, with about 500 speakers and an estimated 3,200 people registered to ‘attend’ virtually.

The largest IMC to date was the 2019 anniversary year – with 2,960 registrations – which 2020 looks set to beat.

The event is aimed at bringing the medievalist community together and providing a platform for medieval studies research to persist, despite the challenges posed by coronavirus (covid-19).

There will be nine parallel sessions scheduled across 19 timeslots, featuring speakers from 60 countries. This year’s IMC retains its usual international appeal, with an estimated two out of three registered participants joining from outside the UK.

It also gives overseas medievalists, who might have been unable to attend other years’ events in person, a chance to get involved – something the team hopes to build on in 2021 and beyond.

New technology

The 2020 IMC is being hosted on our new ‘UniLeedsEvents’ app, with all virtual sessions and a fringe programme of events accessible to registered delegates only via this platform.

Academic sessions will be hosted in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, linked out from the app.

The extensive selection of online fringe activities range from a pub quiz, a Cyrillic calligraphy session and online film tours to manuscript workshops, virtual banquets and story-telling events.

There will even be a virtual disco, hosted by local community Internet radio station South Leeds Radio, with the playlist available for delegates around the world to listen to!

Find out more about this year’s event – including a full programme – via the website. Please note that registrations for this year’s event are now closed and it is not possible to drop into sessions.

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