CFP: The Total Library: Aspirations for Complete Knowledge in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, deadline 1 September 2020

The 27th Biennial Conference of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program of Barnard College (New York City) is seeking paper proposals for their online conference to be held December 5, 2020.

According to Borges, “The fancy or the imagination or the utopia of the Total Library has certain characteristics that are easily confused with virtues.” This one-day conference will explore the aspiration for complete knowledge in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, an aspiration expressed in atlases, herbals, encyclopedias that were meant to mirror and maybe tame the diversity of the earth by including in their pages everything. Whether virtuous or problematic, the fantasy of the complete mastery of knowledge created utopias of learning. In our current moment when the value of knowledge is under question, we invite scholars of multiple disciplines (art history, history, literary studies, religion, history of science) to raise questions about the technologies, social structures, and modes of thought that shape what knowledge means at a given moment.

Plenary speakers will include Ann Blair of Harvard University and Elias Muhanna of Brown University.

PLEASE NOTE THAT, DUE TO COVID-19, THIS CONFERENCE WILL BE HELD ONLINE VIA ZOOM. WE ARE EXTENDING THE SUBMISSION DEADLINE TO SEPTEMBER 1.

Please submit an abstract of 250-300 words and a 2-page CV to Rachel Eisendrath, reisendr@barnard.edu.

 

Above image: Book of Flower Studies (detail), Master of Claude de France, ca. 1510–1515, opaque water color, organic glazes, gold and silver paint, iron and carbon-based ink and charcoal on parchment, The Cloisters Collection, 2019 (2019.197)

Published by ameliahyde

Amelia Roché Hyde holds an MA from The Courtauld Institute of Art, where she studied cross-cultural artistic traditions of medieval Spain, taking an in-depth look at the context and role of Spanish ivories within sacred spaces. Her favorite medieval art objects are ones that are meant to be handled and touched, and she has researched ivories, textiles, and illuminated manuscripts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The British Museum. Amelia is the Research Assistant at The Met Cloisters.

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