Call for Papers: Illuminating Metalwork: Representations of Precious-Metal Objects in Medieval Manuscript Illumination (Saint Louis Conference on Manuscript Studies)

sherborne_lgCall for papers: Illuminating Metalwork: Representations of Precious-Metal Objects in
Medieval Manuscript Illumination (Saint Louis Conference on Manuscript Studies), Vatican Film Library,  Saint Louis University, St. Louis MO, October 14 – 15, 2016
Deadline: May 1, 2016

The Saint Louis Conference on Manuscript Studies is the longest
running annual conference in North America devoted exclusively to
medieval and Renaissance manuscript studies. Organized by the Vatican
Film Library in conjunction with its journal, Manuscripta, the two-day
program each year offers a variety of sessions addressing the
production, distribution, reception, and transmission of pre-modern
manuscripts, including such topics as paleography, codicology,
illumination, textual transmission, library history, provenance,
cataloguing, and others.
Manuscript illuminations frequently place special emphasis on
precious-metal objects both sacred and secular, such as chalices,
reliquaries, crosses, tableware, and figural sculptures. Artists
typically rendered these objects using gold, silver, and metal alloys,
“medium-specific” materials that contrasted dynamically with the
surrounding color pigments. The visual characteristics of these
depicted metal objects — lustrous yet flat, almost
anti-representational — could dazzle, but perhaps also disorient, the
viewer: they catch the eye while creating a fertile tension between the
representation of an image and the presentation of a precious stuff,
between the pictorial and the material. A gold-leaf chalice signals its
real-world referent both iconically, via its shape, and indexically,
via its metal material, a doubled representation unavailable to the
remainder of the painted miniature. Such images can take on added
complexity if intended to represent known real-world objects.

This panel seeks to take inventory of how these precious-metal objects
were depicted and how they generated meaning. Possible themes include:
chronological/geographical specificities in the representation of
metalwork in manuscript illuminations; depictions of precious-metal
figural sculpture, including idols; technique (e.g. pigment vs. leaf);
the semiotics of metal on parchment; and whether we can speak of
“portraits” of particular objects and/or visual “inventories” of
particular collections. We welcome proposals that consider Western,
Byzantine, and/or Islamic manuscript illumination from the early
through the late Middle Ages.

2016 Guest Speaker: Madeline H. Caviness (Mary Richardson Professor
Emeritus, Tufts University), “Medieval German Law and the Jews: The
Sachsenspiegel Picture-Books”

Submission: Please send (1) an abstract of no more than one page, and (2) a c.v.
with current contact information by Sunday, May 1, 2016 to both panel
organizers: Joseph Salvatore Ackley ( and Shannon
L. Wearing ( Selected papers are to be twenty
minutes in length.

Please note that conference registration fees, and travel and
accommodation expenses, are the responsibility of the panelists and/or
their institutions.
For more information, click here.

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