Record Breaking International Medieval Congress

Attracting over 2,900 delegates, this year’s Congress stimulated important discussion among medievalists around the world.

IMC 2018 - Here Be Dragons in University Square

This year’s International Medieval Congress (IMC) was held from 2-5 July and marked significant milestones: the 25th Congress since its beginning in 1994 and the 50th anniversary of the Institute for Medieval Studies (IMS).

The IMC is hosted at the University of Leeds as a collaboration between MEETinLEEDS and the Institute for Medieval Studies, who have an in-house team dedicated to the organisation and running of the Congress.

The IMC provides an interdisciplinary forum for the discussion of all aspects of Medieval Studies, and papers and session proposals on any topic related to the Middle Ages were welcome.

Every year the IMC chooses a special thematic focus; this year’s choice was ‘Memory’. The strand encouraged a consideration of memory from varied fields and perspectives, and recognized not only that there are many kinds of memory, but also that memory operates in diverse modes. The strand offered a unique opportunity for a fresh and vigorous treatment of the field.

In addition to academic sessions, the IMC held receptions hosted by publishers and medieval societies, multiple book fairs, tours, regular excursions to nearby medieval sites during the conference, special musical performances, a medieval craft fair, and even more!

On the final day of the conference, IMC 2018 again hosted Making Leeds Medieval, a free event open to the public and delegates in and around University Square that included a birds of prey display, live music, combat displays, medieval reenactments, hand-crafted medieval-inspired items for purchase, and more.

So many medievalists from around the world participated in the Congress and shared their research through papers, as well as their personal and professional experiences within Medieval Studies through round-tables and workshops. Networking at the IMC allowed medievalists to meet and discuss with other prominent scholars within their fields, as well as to interact with publishers. Such an environment prompts exchanges of ideas, promotes opportunities for scholars from various backgrounds and at different points in their academic careers to thrive, and encourages interdisciplinary collaborations.

“Since 1994, when the IMC began, in excess of 20,000 people from more than 90 countries have come to Leeds to experience the Congress,” says Axel Müller, director of the IMC. “We’re very proud of the contribution the Congress makes to the University and to medieval studies research worldwide, and we’re proud we celebrated our 25th year with such an exciting and multi-faceted programme.”

“Leeds provides the perfect setting for the event. We required over 7,000 beds this year, but this was easily facilitated here. In addition, the city is positioned to access a range of historical landmarks, offering many opportunities for cultural visits and tourism to delegates, scoping beyond the programme.”

Claire Heap, Head of ConferenceLeeds, commented: “Leeds has become a real hub for international events and conferences, with the International Medieval Congress’s home in the city showcasing this, alongside other recent international wins. Venue space within Leeds is truly excellent and can facilitate large conference numbers. Furthermore, the city is capable of accommodating delegates in brilliant hotels and offers international visitors wonderful, unique experiences. There is something for everyone here.”

IMC 2018 in numbers

  • This year’s IMC was the largest Congress to date, and was also the biggest medieval studies conference in the world this year, with a record-breaking total of 2,907 registered delegates
  • 760 sessions
  • 2,100 papers
  • 5 keynote lectures, in addition to special lectures
  • 389 sessions listed under the special thematic strand of ‘Memory’