Entanglements of Material and Virtual Worlds in Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture

Conference of the Interdisciplinary Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IZMF) and the Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture (IMAREAL) at the University of Salzburg, 19th – 21st September 2023, Krems/Donau


The conference held at the Kolping Haus in Krems/Donau was organized by Christina Antenhofer (history), Elisabeth Gruber (history), and Alexander Zerfaß (theology). It was one of the biannually organized co-hosted conferences by the IZMF and the IMAREAL of the University of Salzburg. This time, the conference focused on VIRMA, the interdisciplinary research network “Virtual Materialities and Material Virtualities”.

Christina Antenhofer talks at the conference, by Peter Böttcher, IMAREAL, 2023. All rights reserved.

This network is dedicated to the study of an interdisciplinary historically and anthropologically articulated understanding of the interdependencies between virtual and material realities. Its mission and activities can be followed on the VIRMA blog.

The VIRMA-conference was the first in a row. The next will be held at the International Research Center for Cultural Studies | University of Art and Design Linz (ifk) in Vienna from 17th–19th June 2024 and is organized by Karin Harrasser, Jakob Moser and Angelika Seppi. Members of the network and guests explore the topic “Sinnlich-übersinnliche Dinge. Geschichte und Gegenwart der Virtualität.”

Every two years, the IZMF and IMAREAL organize joint conferences including the IZMF/IMAREAL-conference on “Framing – Deframing – Reframing” in 2021, organized by Christina Antenhofer und Heike Schlie. The papers presented and discussed structures, mechanisms, and strategies of deframing and reframing culturally appropriated entities. The conference proceedings will be published as vol. 13 in the series “Interdisziplinäre Beiträge zu Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit” in February 2024.

The recent VIRMA-conference addressed the interplay between materiality and virtuality and concentrated on reciprocal relationships and connecting characteristics rather than binary oppositions and dividing aspects of both these concepts. The contributions are currently being edited for the aforementioned book series.


The conference scope included five thematic sections:

  1. Materiality and Virtuality in the History of Knowledge
  2. Visualizing Materiality and Virtuality
  3. Sensing Materiality and Virtuality
  4. Materiality and Virtuality in Space
  5. Manuscripts between Materiality and Virtuality

The contributions came from the fields of history, theology and philosophy, language and literary studies, archaeology, art history, and performance studies. They formed a dense, however, diverse program that combined humanistic approaches from cultural history with approaches from digital humanities and VR. Resource databases and virtual research frameworks were a self-evident part of the contributions and discussions as were close readings of sources, hermeneutical interpretations, and philological source criticism. Bringing together these fruitful methodological perspectives of scientific work on the same research topics and sources 20 panelists and 2 keynote speakers centered their papers around the basic question of how medieval and early modern material and virtual worlds entangle prior to the digital age but also what challenges arise from virtualizing the past with the new approaches of the digital age. With a sober understanding of what challenges the digital transformation of material realities brings, the speakers reflected on the ways in which research data is presented and knowledge extracted from the historical sources and artefacts, on how it can be modelled and analyzed, and on the ethical issues that underlie various forms of processing these materials.

Gregor Kremser (Kulturamt Krems), Thomas Kühtreiber (IMAREAL), Liv Nilsson Stutz (Växjö, Sweden), Christina Antenhofer (IZMF), Elisabeth Gruber (IMAREAL), Karin Harrasser (ifk) and Hendrik Lehnert (PLUS) (from left to right), by Peter Böttcher, IMAREAL, 2023. All rights reserved.


The conference is documented on several platforms:

Elisabeth Tangerner (Salzburg) has published an extensive conference report on HSozKult, where she summarizes the contributions and discussions.

The Book of Abstracts summarizing all papers presented at the conference was edited by Jasmin Kneidinger for the VIRMA blog.

The videos of the conference talks are available on UniTV Salzburg. Responsible for recording and video editing was Sebastian Sillinger.

A picture gallery with photographs by Peter Böttcher gives lively impressions of the talks and fruitful discussions.

Dieser Artikel wurde redaktionell betreut von Karoline Döring und Björn Gebert.


Diesen Blogbeitrag zitieren
Karoline Döring (2024, 10. Februar). Entanglements of Material and Virtual Worlds in Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture. Mittelalter. Abgerufen am 17. Juni 2024, von https://doi.org/10.58079/vsw6

Karoline Döring

Karoline Döring ist Historikerin mit Schwerpunkt Mittelalter und Frühe Neuzeit, liebt Projekte und Schreiben, ist digital enthusiast und engagiert in der Vermittlung von Geschichte.

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