Conference: Gothic Arts: An Interdisciplinary Symposium (Philadelphia, 23-24/03/2018)

gothic artGothic Arts: An Interdisciplinary Symposium

Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion
Van Pelt Library
University of Pennsylvania

March 23rd-24th, 2018

Mary Caldwell, Department of Music
Sarah M. Guérin, Department of the History of Art
Ada Kuskowski, Department of History

In a passage from Thomas Aquinas’s treatise on good governance, a text written for the Cypriot king around 1267, the angelic doctor wrote: “Art is the imitation of nature. Works of art are successful to the extent that they achieve a likeness of nature.” This passage would seem to be the perfect explanation for the exceptionally life-like Adam sculpted for the south transept at the Parisian Notre-Dame, completed a handful of years earlier and possibly seen by Thomas before he left Paris for his Italian sojourn. However, by “ars” Aquinas meant not our “fine arts,” but technique and, even more broadly, human endeavor. The passage comes not from a discussion of the visual arts, but from a justification of benign kingship as opposed to democracy—the former being more akin to nature.

This interdisciplinary conference, Gothic Arts, celebrates the polyvalent definition of ars in the long thirteenth-century of the medieval francophone world. The conference proposes to closely examine Gothic Arts as Gothic techniques, not only in terms of the praxis of how things were done, but also as a means of doing something tangible in the world. Situated in the various cultural milieux of the thirteenth century, the conference explores modes and concepts of techne and creation within and across diverse fields. With an eye toward both implicit and explicit interdisciplinary links, we will explore the realms of practice—including but not limited to the clerical, scholastic, musical, medical, artistic, legal, architectural, administrative, literary and so on.

Panels will examine the various arts—cultural products of thirteenth-century France—from a profoundly interdisciplinary perspective, including the conceptual, visual, material, legal, sonic, and literary.



FRIDAY, March 23rd 2018

9:30: Reception and Coffee opens

10:00 am WELCOME: Will Noel (Director, Kislak Center and SIMS)

INTRODUCTION: Mary Channen Caldwell, Sarah M. Guérin, and Ada Kuskowski (University of Pennsylvania)

10:30 am PLENARY: Sharon Farmer (University of California Santa Barbara)
Global Perspectives on the Production of French Gothic Silk Purses

11:45 pm Lunch

1:00 pm Session 1. Constructed Identities

CHAIR: Talya Fishman (University of Pennsylvania)

Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak (New York University)
Obliterating Personhood. The Unmaking of Medieval Markers of Identity

Sara McDougall (John Jay College and the CUNY Graduate Center)
Down and Out and Pregnant in the Thirteenth Century: Law and Practice

Richard Leson (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Heraldry of French Noblewomen in the Thirteenth Century: The Illuminated Prayer Book as Proving Ground?

2:45 pm Coffee break

3:15 pm Session 2. Crafting History
CHAIR: Lynn Ransom (SIMS, Penn Libraries)

Francis Gingras (Université de Montréal)
The Art of Writing History: the Histoire ancienne jusqu’à César as a Monument to “bien dire et faire”

Catherine A. Bradley (University of Oslo)
Crafting and Re-Crafting a Thirteenth-Century Motet

Martin Schwarz (University of Chicago)
“Wisdom’s Special Workshop”: Scholasticism as Craft in Medieval Paris

4:45 pm Break & SIMS Gothic manuscript exhibition in the Lea Library

7:00 pm CONCERT: Fortuna Antiqua et Ultra by Concordia Dawn

Reception to follow

SATURDAY, March 24th 2018

9:30: Reception and Coffee opens

10:00 am Session 3. Intertexts
CHAIR: Julia Verkholantsev (University of Pennsylvania)

Thomas B. Payne (William and Mary)
Vetus abit littera: From the Old to the New Law in the Parisian Conductus

Meredith Cohen (University of California Los Angeles)
The Art and Technique of the Gothic Pier

Anne Lester (University of Colorado Boulder)
Seen and Unseen: Gothic Making the Mysteries of the Altar

11:45 pm Lunch

1:00 pm PLENARY: Carol Symes (University of Illinois)
How to Do Things with Written Words: The Ars scribendi of Vernacular Documentation.

2:15 pm Session 4. Aural Senses
CHAIR: Elly Truitt (Bryn Mawr College)

Sarah Kay (New York University)
Singing and the Spheres: Urania and Calliope in Thirteenth- Century France

Kevin Brownlee (University of Pennsylvania)
Ekphrasis in Jean de Meun’s Rose and Boccaccio’s Teseida: The Erotic Statue & the Illustrated Building

Mark Everist (University of Southampton)
Music, Pleasure and the Intertextual Arts in the Long Thirteenth Century

3:45 pm Coffee Break

4:15 pm Round Table. Rethinking Habitus
CHAIR: Will Noel (Director, Kislak Center and SIMS, Penn Libraries)

Ivan Drpić (University of Pennsylvania)
Meg Leja (Binghamton University)
Emily Steiner (University of Pennsylvania)
Carissa Harris (Temple University)
Nicholas Herman (SIMS, Penn Libraries)

6:00 pm Reception
With the support of:
The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies; Department of Music; Department of the History of Art; Department of History; and the University Research Foundation.

Additional support generously provided by:
The Department of Romance Languages; the Department of Classics; the Center for Ancient Studies; the Global Medieval Studies Faculty Group; The Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts; and the Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory.


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