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The Carolingian era—best known for Emperor Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor—and its lasting impact on Europe will be the topic of the 14th annual Marco Symposium March 24–25.

Charlemagne (who died in 814 CE) united much of western and central Europe and is credited with laying the political and cultural foundations for what would eventually become modern France and Germany. The period during which Charlemagne and his successors ruled is known as the Carolingian era.

The symposium will investigate how the Carolingians used cultural, intellectual, religious, social, literary, political, and military experimentation to change their world.

“The Carolingians are one of history’s most dysfunctional families,” said Jay Rubenstein, Riggsby Director of the Marco Institute. “But despite their treachery, brutality, and astonishing hubris—or perhaps because of all these things—they reshaped the culture and destiny of Europe and the West. We will probably always live with the consequences of their experiments.”

The two-day symposium will include discussions about what experimental methodologies, theoretical approaches, and alternative literary forms today’s scholars might use to shed light on and write about the Carolingians.

All symposium lectures on Friday, March 24, and Saturday, March 25, are free and open to the public. Most sessions will be held in the Great Room of the UT International House.

Paul Dutton, professor of history at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, will deliver the keynote address, “Four Startling Carolingian Experiments with Family,” at 5:30 p.m., March 24 in the Lindsay Young Auditorium of John C. Hodges Library.

The program also includes speakers from UT, the University of Arkansas, the University of Kentucky, Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University, Princeton University, the University of South Florida, Pacific University, and New York University.

The UT Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies is sponsoring the Symposium. Visit the website for more details and to see the schedule of events. For more information, call 865-974-1859 or email


 Katie Hodges-Kluck (865-974-1859,

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,