Call for Papers: Epigrams on Art in Byzantium (Kalamazoo 2015)

Call for Papers:
Epigrams on Art in Byzantium
50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, 14-17 May 2015
Deadline: 15 September 2014

Organizer and presider: Dr. Ivan Drpić, University of Washington, Seattle
Sponsor: Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture

Papers are invited for Epigrams on Art in Byzantium, a Mary Jaharis Center sponsored session at the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, May 14–17, 2015.

St._Polyeuktos_niche_with_epigram_1The cohabitation and synergy of the physical object and the inscribed verse was a common facet of daily life in Byzantium. From monumental architecture to pieces of jewellery, seals, and even coins, a range of Byzantine objects bore verse inscriptions, or epigrams. While philologists and literary historians have furthered our understanding of Byzantine epigrammatic poetry in recent years, art historians have only begun to integrate the evidence of epigrams in the study of Byzantine art, aesthetics, and material culture. There is a great deal to be learned from engaging with this tremendously rich yet lamentably understudied evidence. How does the epigram inflect, transform, and empower the object it accompanies? How does it frame or guide the viewer’s sensorial, cognitive, and emotional responses? If poetic inscriptions, as scholars have convincingly argued, were commonly read aloud by the Byzantines, how does the experience of the epigram as performed speech affect the viewer’s interaction with the object? What is the ritual dimension of inscribed verse and how may it relate to liturgical rites, commemorative prayers, solemn vows, or magical incantations? What is the agency of poetic inscriptions beyond verbal communication? What role does the visual aspect, materiality, and spatial presentation of the written word play in making the inscription “legible”? How does the epigram function as a social tool, a site for the construction of identity for the object’s commissioner, donor, or maker? Can we speak about an epigrammatic discourse on art, and if yes, how does this discourse interact with or differ from the discourses on art formulated in theology and rhetoric? This session seeks contributions that take a fresh and penetrating look at the complex interplay between art and epigrammatic poetry in Byzantine culture.

Paper proposals must be submitted through the Mary Jaharis Center website (http://maryjahariscenter.org/sponsored-sessions/50th-international-congress-on-medieval-studies/). The deadline for submission is September 15, 2014. Proposals should include:

-Proposed paper title
-Paper abstract (about 300 words)
-CV

Successful applicants will be notified by October 1, 2014.

The Mary Jaharis Center will reimburse session participants up to $500 maximum for US residents and up to $1000 maximum for those coming abroad. Funding is through reimbursement only; advance funding cannot be provided. Eligible expenses include conference registration, transportation, and food and lodging. Receipts are required for reimbursement.

Please contact Brandie Ratliff (mjcbac@hchc.edu), Director, Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture with any questions.

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