As a discipline based on the study of the visible, art history has necessarily to engage with what is illuminated and can be seen. But the opposition of light and shade, in its physical as well as in its symbolic dimensions, also structures human thought. Many myths of creation begin with the emergence of light; banishing darkness is the first step for the development of life and society. Subsequent developments in philosophy and the human sciences—the Enlightenment comes to mind in particular—continue to make the division between light and dark a framework of thought of decisive importance. Thus, consciously or in spite of ourselves, from our origin myths to contemporary positivism, from biblical narratives to the constitution of human sciences as academic disciplines, we are the heirs of a polarisation between darkness and light. Brightness becomes a virtue: clarity, lucidity, brilliance, carry a positive charge while their opposites are associated with negative qualities of obscurity and even evil.
For this issue, coordinated with the Indian art historian Kavita Singh, the journal Perspective turns towards darkness as a theme to question our largely habitual and reflexive association of light with knowledge, positivity, clarity, and, on the other hand, of darkness with non-knowledge, negativity, obscurity. It invites reflections on the discipline of art history through the prism of shadows.
Please submit your proposal (2,000–3,000-character summary, with a provisional title, a short bibliography on the topic, and a 2–3-line biography) to the editorial address (firstname.lastname@example.org) by December 13, 2021. Authors of selected articles will be informed of the committee’s decision in February 2022. Full texts of accepted contributions will need to be sent by June 1st, 2022. These will be definitively accepted after the journal’s anonymous peer-review process.