Conference: Obra congrua: Girona Cathedral, 1416-2016, University of Girona, October 19-21, 2016
Call for Papers: Light and Darkness in Medieval Art, 1200–1450 (I–II)
Sponsored by the International Center of Medieval Art
(Convenors: Stefania Gerevini and Tom Nickson)
Light has occupied an increasingly prominent role in medieval studies in recent years. Its perceptual and epistemic significance in the period 1200-1450 has been scrutinized in several specialised research projects, and the changing ways in which light and light-effects are rendered and produced in the arts of the Middle Ages, particularly in Byzantium and Islam, are routinely evoked in literature. However, scholarship on these topics remains fragmented, especially for the Gothic period, and comparative approaches are seldom attempted. New technologies of virtual reconstruction and changing fashions of museum display make it an opportune moment to consider these issues in a more systematic manner.
These two sessions will investigate how perceptions of light and darkness informed the ways in which art across Europe and the Mediterranean was produced, viewed and understood in the period 1200–1450. In the late 12th century a key set of optical writings was translated from Arabic into Latin, providing new theoretical paradigms for addressing questions of physical sight and illumination across Europe. At this time theologies of light also gained renewed popularity in the eastern Mediterranean – particularly as a result of the Hesychast controversy in Byzantium, and in connection with Sufi notions of divine illumination in Islam. What correlations can be traced between theories of optics, theologies of light, practices of illumination, and modes of viewing in the Middle Ages? Are there similarities in the ways different religious or cultural communities conceptualised light and used it in everyday life or ritual settings?
These sessions invite specialists of Christian, Islamic and Jewish art and culture to explore the status of light in broader discourses around visuality, visibility and materiality; the interconnections between conceptualizations of light and coeval attitudes towards objectivity and naturalism; and the ways in which light can articulate political, social or divine authority and hierarchies. The session will also welcome papers that address such broad methodological questions as: can the investigation of light in art prompt reconsideration of well established periodizations and interpretative paradigms of art history? How was the dramatic interplay between light and obscurity exploited in the secular and religious architecture of Europe and the medieval Mediterranean in order to organise space, direct viewers and convey meaning? How carefully were light effects taken into account in the display of images and portable objects, and how does consideration of luminosity, shadow and darkness hone our understanding of the agency of medieval objects? Finally, to what extent is light’s ephemeral and fleeting nature disguised by changing fashions of display and technologies of reproduction, and – crucially – how do these affect our ability to apprehend and explain medieval approaches to light?
Proposals for 20 min papers should include an abstract (max.250 words) and brief CV. Proposals should be submitted by 16 September 2016 to the session organizers: Stefania Gerevini (email@example.com) and Tom Nickson (firstname.lastname@example.org). Thanks to a generous grant from the Kress Foundation, funds may be available to defray travel costs of speakers in ICMA-sponsored sessions up to a maximum of $600 ($1200 for transatlantic travel). If available, the Kress funds are allocated for travel and hotel only. Speakers in ICMA sponsored sessions will be refunded only after the conference, against travel receipts.
Illuminating the Past is an informal sharing of research. Included in the day’s activities are a series of exciting talks led by graduates and early career scholars, demonstrations on the making and use of medieval colour, an exhibition including objects from The Beaney and interactive activities.
It’s hard to think of a better setting as the event will take place inside Eastridge Hospital Canterbury, a 12th-c pilgrims’ residence right in the centre of town (with breaks and drinks taking place in the beautiful Greyfriars’ garden).
Please feel free to drop in at any time during the day between 9.30am -5pm without booking. However, attendance for the talks needs to be pre-booked. In order to do this, and to view the talks programme, please visit:
Dr Jayne Wackett, AHRC Cultural Engagement Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Kent
Call for Papers: Modelling Medieval Vaults symposium
University of Liverpool in London, Finsbury Square, July 14, 2016.
Deadline: 30 April 2016
The use of digital surveying and analysis techniques, such as laser scanning, photogrammetry, 3D reconstructions or reverse engineering offers the opportunity to re-examine historic works of architecture. In the context of medieval vaults, this has enabled new research into three-dimensional design processes, construction methods, structural engineering, building archaeology and relationships between buildings.
Recent research on Continental European and Central American vaults has established the significance of these techniques, however, as yet there has been little exploitation of digital technologies in the context of medieval vaults in the British Isles. This is despite international recognition of the importance of thirteenth and fourteenth-century English vault design to the history of Gothic architecture in an international context.
The aims of the present symposium are to present new research in this emerging field in order to establish appropriate methodologies using digital tools and identify significant questions for future research in the area.
Conference organisers: Dr Alex Buchanan and Dr Nick Webb.
Abstracts (500 words maximum) are invited for 20 minute papers on the following subjects:
- Representation and analysis of medieval vaults using digital technologies.
- Investigations of British tierceron, lierne or fan vaults.
- Digital techniques used for the analysis of historic works of architecture applicable to gothic vaulted buildings.
Submission: Abstracts (500 words maximum) to be addressed to Nick Webb by email.
Our intention is that proceedings will be published in a suitable journal.
Symposium cost: £40 for listeners and £25 for students/speakers.
The excellent archival and architectural resources at Canterbury Cathedral, the first English Gothic building, combined with our proximity to Paris, the site of origin of Gothic art, provide an ideal research environment for a doctoral project that examines the visual culture and development of the Gothic style. Working with Dr Guerry, who is a specialist in the field of Gothic wall painting, this PhD studentship at the School of History at the University of Kent would enable an outstanding graduate student to pursue research that would contribute substantially to our understanding the invention, diffusion, and function of Gothic art in the High Middle Ages. In the past decade, new approaches to the study of Gothic Art have benefitted tremendously from the advent of scanning technology, which has the potential to reveal the content of lost medieval murals. Because of the vicissitudes of time, wall paintings rarely survive. In the Middle Ages, lavish wall paintings once covered the interior and exterior of churches, halls, houses, castles, and bridges.
This studentship would provide a postgraduate with the opportunity to discover and define the significance of forgotten Gothic wall paintings or another aspect of monumental Gothic art. Under the tutelage of Dr Guerry and with the help of her collaborators, the PhD student would be given access and equipped with all of the necessary tools to achieve groundbreaking fieldwork, ideally on site in Canterbury, Paris, or Angers, where Dr. Guerry has ongoing research projects.
-Ideal candidates will have an MA or MPhil with distinction in History, History of Art, or Architecture
-Proficient language skills in both Latin and French are necessary
Here are the general details:
This term promises an interesting and varied programme. Our speakers are:
- Zuleika Murat, sharing discoveries about Guariento and the Tomb of Doge Giovanni Dolfin in Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Venice (Wednesday 20th January)
- Tom Nickson, looking at the significance of light and its subsequent obscuration in gothic buildings (Wednesday, 10th February)
- Paula Nuttall, on dance and low-life subjects in drawings by Verrocchio (Monday, 7th March)
All of this term’s seminars are held at 5pm in the Keynes Library at Birkbeck’s School of Arts (Room 114, 43, Gordon Sq., London, WC1H OPD). A break at 5.50pm is followed by discussion and refreshments. We look forward to seeing you there.