Welcome to vIMC 2020!

Dear fellow medievalists, 

On these pages you will find the details of the virtual IMC 2020 (vIMC). Following the pandemic lockdown and the cancellation of IMC 2020, we consulted IMC 2020 scheduled participants and attendees, and, encouraged by the enthusiasm and support of respondents, we decided to put together a different congress to the best of our abilities – subject to the commitment and input of medievalists worldwide. We ask for your support in what is a huge experiment, which stretches what systems we have in place to their limits, and we heavily rely on the entire community of medievalists to make this event a success. 

We intend for this vIMC not only to help in boosting the morale for medievalists worldwide, but also to offer a crucial opportunity for researchers to use a meaningful platform to present, share, and discuss their research a professional and collaborative format. 

We have spent many hours on this since the lockdown started, we have developed a format which we hope makes the above ambition possible. At the same time, we fully acknowledge that some challenges, such as varying types of internet connectivity and other technical issues, may be beyond our control. 

The programme we have collated is based on the traditional IMC’s structure: we have tried to avoid subject and thematic clashes, while we acknowledge that this will not always be possible. We had to make a number of decisions on technical grounds – all the while not having access to our usual IMC programming technology – and that has meant that we could only include papers which had been accepted for the original IMC 2020 (and the titles as then given). This new programme includes a total of nearly 200 sessions with over 500 papers. 

For sessions, we have opted for the University of Leeds’ Online teaching platform ‘Blackboard Collaborate Ultra’ which is free to use for anyone who has registered. There will be no need to download software or acquire additional licenses. It is our intention to allow Question & Answers in each session with the aim of replicating, as much as possible, the familiar, in-person IMC experience. 

Beyond the academic sessions, we have also worked to include some of the other usual IMC activities, such as performances, receptions, and social events – with the intention of providing as many networking opportunities as possible. We encourage you to propose social sessions to be included in our fringe programme on your registration. 

We fully realise that this virtual event will not be a full replacement for the physical IMC, but we hope that it helps the community of medievalists to develop and share their work in the many areas of medieval studies. We have also agreed to suspend the rule that no papers can be given at the IMC more than once, enabling people to present a paper at the vIMC which may then be presented again at a later stage – surely in an updated format. 

In this radically changed environment, we see this event as a learning opportunity to enable us all to continue to come together to present, share, and discuss research, and to improve and find fresh ways on how to do it best. There is no doubt in my mind that parts of this experiment will not always be successful and, for this reason, we request your patience and good will. At the same time, we are confident that we have made as much of an effort as possible to make it work. Our thanks go to everyone who helped making this possible, all speakers, moderators, and session organisers, and all IMC staff. Please join us in this experiment and contribute to making this a success. 

Axel Müller 

Director, International Medieval Congress