Tag Archives: University of Hamburg

CFP: Aby Warburg and Nature (Hamburg, 15-16 Jan 15)

Workshop, University of Hamburg, Warburg-Haus, 15 – 16 January 2015
Deadline: 31 August 2014

Organizers: Frank Fehrenbach and Cornelia Zumbusch (University of Hamburg)

WarburgAby Warburg’s references to enlivenment, life forces, and the afterlife of images are evidence for the paradigmatic meaning of the natural for his conceptualization of the emergence and re-emergence of pictorial formulas. From wind and the bewegtes Beiwerk (‘accessory in motion’) in his dissertation on Botticelli, to stars in his studies on astrology, to lightning in his lecture on snake rituals, nature surfaces again and again in his work as an image-generating entity. Warburg himself systematically addressed the connections between art and nature; it is thus all the more surprising that this aspect of Warburg’s work has been the subject of so little research. Warburg’s ‘pathos formulas’ anchor images to motor functions and the kinetics of the human body. His studies of expression, as well as his notion of a collective pictorial memory that nourished the visual arts from antiquity through the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, are clearly oriented towards anthropological, physiological and psychological models of human nature. Warburg thus identifies the basis of human image-making as an attempt to grasp the ‘moved life’ of the natural, against the background of conceptions and descriptive means drawn from natural magic, natural philosophy, and the natural sciences.

Warburg’s basic project to link the study of the visual arts with cultural studies is itself strongly related to natural scientific models of his time. This can be seen in his idiosyncratic, often tentative adoptions of such terms and contaminations as mneme (mnemonic traces that operate in the life of images); Erbgut and Erbmasse (‘inheritance’; ‘hereditary mass’); kinetic and potential energy; dynamogram (a kind of ‘energetic sign’); engram (‘energetic’ mnemonic traces); and Energiekonserve (‘canned energy’). It is to these areas that our workshop wishes to apply itself – not simply to plumb the capacity and range of Warburg’s vocabulary, but rather to take a closer look at his intersecting of cultural studies and the natural sciences. What methodological status do genetics, evolutionary biology, social psychology, affect psychology, or even physics or mathematics have for Warburg’s understanding of images? What role do Warburg’s own systems of record, his sketches and formulas, play in all this? Is the importing of abstract concepts and models from the natural sciences just a matter of ‘nice analogies’, as Saxl would have us believe – or can we lay bare an epistemology of transfer between cultural studies and the natural sciences which could also be illuminating for current fluctuations between the two?

Please submit your proposal of no more than 300 words and a short CV to
naturbilder@uni-hamburg.de by August 31, 2014.

CFP: Visual Narratives – Cultural Identities (Hamburg, 27-29 Nov 14)

CFP: Visual Narratives – Cultural Identities. A trans- and interdisciplinary conference at the University of Hamburg
Hamburg, 27-29 November 2014
Deadline: 31 July 2014

Increasingly, cultural studies focus on stories and the narration of stories as important catalysts for the constitution, confirmation, and modification of cultural identities. Not only in times of what seems like floods of images but since images are made a large part of these stories and narratives is communicated by visual media. Constantly it can be observed that elaborate iconographic programs are developed to establish specific meanings more or less successfully as essential elements of cultural identities.

To analyse and interpret visual media from such a perspective it is, on the one hand, necessary to develop categories to describe their narrative aspect. The current state of research is heterogeneous: On narratology of film and graphic literature there are rich discussions and developed methods and theories whilst research in the field of single and static images is quite fragmentary. On the other hand methods have to be explored which facilitate cultural interpretations of visual narratives and which may decode the deeper meanings transmitted – also from times and epochs long gone. Finally, it has to be considered how narrative contents participate in the construction of cultural identities.

Basic questions for the conference could be:

– By which means may the narrative aspects of visual media be described?
– Which are the methods to decode the transmitted messages?
– Which strategies are used to construct cultural identities visually?
– Do, in turn, changed or modified identities lead to different patterns of stories and narrations?- What can be gained from a comparison of visual-narrative communication with other forms, for example literary ones?

The conference is organised by students of archaeology, art history, and cultural anthropology. It will contain lectures and workshops on the main topics and provide opportunities for detailed discussion. We are especially looking for trans- and interdisciplinary contributions which deal with the analysis and interpretation of narratives and narrations in visual media from narratological and (visual) culture studies perspectives. There is no limitation to certain times or cultures. The contributions are going to be published after the conference. Proposals for lectures (30 min) or workshops (60 min) in German or English may be sent to mail@kulturkundetagung.de (contact persons: Jacobus Bracker, Clara Doose-Grünefeld, Tim Jegodzinski and Kirsten Maack) until 31 July 2014. Abstracts should not exceed 300 words. Further we would be grateful to receive a short academic CV. We encourage establiched scholars and especially young scholars and students of all levels to contribute. Funding of speakers’ travel and accommodation expenses can currently not be guaranteed.  However, participation in the conference is free of any charge.

For further information, see the conference website.