CFP: Enclosures: Women’s Religious Art and the Boundaries of Method (International Medieval Congress, Leeds 2020, September 10, 2019)

This panel seeks to explore new methodologies for studying the art of women’s religious communities in global and cross-cultural perspective from about 500 to 1525 CE. 

In the last few decades years, art historians have put women back on the map of European medieval art history. Harnessing the second-wave feminism, scholars, such as Caroline Walker Bynum and Madeline H. Caviness, paved the way for this radical shift. The generation that followed, most influentially Jeffrey Hamburger, has consolidated the study of the art and architecture of female monasticism, as manifested in the landmark exhibition of Crown and Veil (Essen and Bonn, 2005). In the process, art historians expanded our knowledge of the role of religious women as makers, commissioners, and recipients of art. The corpus of works of art has exponentially enlarged, fully encompassing the range of media engaged in women’s religious life, including objects previously relegated to margins of art history as crafts. To do so, art historians have employed a variety of methodologies, using interdisciplinary approaches. 

Now, it is time to refresh the methodological foundations and broaden the scope of inquiry of this field. To this end, we invite speakers working on topics of the art of religious women and communities in any cultural, religious, and geographic context. In particular, we encourage the submission of papers that examines the methodological challenges and/or engage in innovative approaches in the field. 

Potential questions may include, but are not limited to: 

  • New insights into the role women’s religious communities played in the production and commission of art.
  • Is the art of female monasticism a productive category of inquiry? If so, what can we learn from examining medieval art through this lens and what are its boundaries? If not, what are the other venues for studying the art of religious women?
  • What new venues do interdisciplinary collaborations open up for the study of female monastic art?
  • Do we need to reassess gender-specific approaches to the art of women’s religious communities in light of recent scholarship on gender?
  • What lessons might be learned from examining other cultural and religious traditions? What methods have proven productive in examining non-Christian/non-Western cultural and religious communities?
  • Case studies of inter-religious and/or inter-cultural exchange, interchange, influences, and entanglement among women’s religious communities
  • Are there media specific to or preferred by female audience? Are there any of these universal?
  • New technological/digital approaches to studying the art of women’s religious communities 

The session seeks to provide a forum for scholars at different career stages, across different art historical geographies. This session, we hope, will foster a dialogue across regions and religions of women’s religious communities, providing a fertile ground for discussion 

We invite interested applicants to submit a 250 word abstract and a short c.v. to Kristina Potuckova (kristina.potuckova@yale.edu) and Orsolya Mednyánszky (omednyanszky@jhu.edu) by September 10, 2019. 

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