2014 Liturgy Conference

Liturgy’s Imagined Pasts

Methodologies and Materials in the Writing of Liturgical History Today

June 15 - 18, 2014

The 2014 ISM Liturgy Conference focused on contemporary challenges in the writing of liturgy’s past.  In one form or another, liturgical historiography has long been foundational to scholarly work in liturgical studies, yet has remained under-theorized by historians of liturgy who often simply followed broader historiographic trends.  With the 2014 conference, we sought to call attention to the importance of reflecting on the writing of liturgy’s past, taking up questions of methodology as well as contemporary historical research.

With regard to questions of methodology, the conference probed the impact of important shifts in historiography (e.g., the turns to social history, to history “from below,” to gender history) on the work of historians of liturgy and on how we imagine and display the past.  With regard to historical research itself, the conference presented new scholarship that promises to reconfigure some of the established images of liturgy’s past.  Recent years have seen significant shifts not only in how liturgy’s past is understood but also in what is considered important; and with this has come a broadening of scholarly materials of analysis, some of which was featured in the conference presentations.

With a focus on liturgy’s imagined past, the 2014 ISM Liturgy Conference hopes to invigorate scholarly discussion of this fundamental research area and to resource it at a point in time when formidable questions are being posed about the way in which historians construct the object of their inquiry. The future, after all, stands on the shoulders of how one imagines the past.