Since 2006, the Moore Institute of the National University of Ireland in Galway has hosted, under the direction of Prof. Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, a biannual conference on the science of computus in the Middle Ages. Computus – the mathematics required to calculate the date of Easter, and related topics (incl. astronomical observations and calculations) – straddles the fields of mathematics and astronomy, biblical interpretation and cosmology, empirical astronomical observation, and the perennial quest to understand the concepts of time and time-reckoning.
The core period covered by the Galway Conference stretches from the beginnings of Easter calculations in the third century to the introduction of Arabic and Greek science in the Latin West in the 12th century, but papers on the reckoning of time and its cultural context in the later Middle Ages have also always been welcome. Each Conference has had a special theme (e.g., the formation of computus in Late Antiquity; the rise of prognostications in the early Middle Ages; the revolution of computus in the 11th and 12th centuries; Computus in the Carolingian Age; Computus and the vernacular; etc.).
The upcoming conference will start with a special panel addressing the following fundamental conceptual question:
What is early medieval Latin science?
We are very happy and proud that the following scholars have accepted to present in this panel: Faith Wallis (McGill, Montreal), John J. Contreni (Purdue), Philipp Nothaft (All Souls, Oxford), James T. Palmer (St. Andrews), Jacopo Bisagni (NUI, Galway)
This year, the main (but not exclusive) theme for all other papers will be:
New Approaches to the study of late antique and medieval computus
Interest in medieval computus has increased substantially in recent years, in numerous areas. The principal aim of this conference is to provide a platform for any new thematic or methodological approaches to computus. This may include:
- Institutional background: monastic and cathedral schools, landscapes of knowledge
- Key actors and networks of knowledge
- The cultural and political contexts
- Studies of identity and ethnicity
- Forms of medieval engagement with computistical texts: glossing and commentary traditions, source and quotation marks, etc.
- The relation between prose, verse, and / or tabular and diagrammatic material
- Obfuscation of calendrical knowledge
- Exegetical questioning of nature
- The relation between computus and other areas of monastic learning
- Linguistic phenomena, both in Latin and the vernacular
- Digital tools of editing and cataloguing scientific texts or tracing scientific ideas
But papers in all other areas dealing with the scientific and cultural history of computus before the early modern period are also welcome.
The conference will be held in Galway on 26-28 June 2020.
Please send your paper proposal electronically before 1 March 2020 to: