Tag Archives: Visual culture

Call for Papers: ‘Light and darkness in pre-modern visual cultures’, Courtauld Institute of Art, London, Friday 23rd November 2018


Courtauld Institute of Art, London
Deadline: 15 September 2018

Organisers: Stefania Gerevini and Tom Nickson

The staged lighting of modern galleries, heritage sites and publications has significantly altered understanding of the roles of light and darkness in the design and reception of pre-modern objects and spaces. Despite sophisticated systems to manage artificial and natural light, pre-modern experiences of the visual were shaped greatly by daily and seasonal rituals and contingencies. In turn, those experiences informed, and were informed by, diverse theories about vision, light and illumination.

This one-day workshop of lightning talks offers participants opportunities to explore their own encounters with issues of light and darkness in pre-modern cultures, and set them within broader scholarly frameworks. How did pre-modern cultures conceptualise, respond to, and manipulate light and darkness and their interactions in urban, domestic and religious settings? How were natural and artificial light managed? What role did they play in the design of individual artworks, architectural spaces, ephemera and rituals, and to what extent did different light levels affect perceptions of objects and spaces? What vocabulary was used to think about light and darkness, and how was this language transformed by the advent of new technologies of illumination? How did pre-modern cultures deploy light/dark, day/night, to cogitate on God and the cosmos, and to visualise them?

Lightning talks should be no more than 5 minutes and 5 slides, and will be ‘curated’ for maximum variety and visual interest. They may relate to any region or culture, and ‘pre-modern’ is here very broadly defined as the period before the adoption of gas or electric lighting. Papers might focus on single objects, rituals or spaces, or on groups thereof. All disciplinary perspectives are welcome, provided they focus predominantly on visual culture.

Papers might consider:

  • The language of light and darkness: science, theology, literature and daily life
  • Light, darkness and the senses
  • Rituals, objects and spaces by night
  • Science, technologies and visual culture
  • Theologies of light/darkness
  • Daily/annual cycles of light and dark
  • Street life and the experience of urban spaces and architectures by day and night
  • Natural ‘spotlights’ on objects or buildings
  • Provision for lighting of various kinds
  • The agency of patrons or creators in shaping lighting conditions
  • Reconstructions of original lighting conditions
  • Restaging of medieval objects in early modern contexts
  • Deliberate darkness or blinding light
  • Refraction and reflection
  • Materiality and immateriality

Abstracts of 200 words should be sent to lightanddarkness2311@gmail.com together with 100-word participant biographies. The deadline is Saturday 15th September 2018. Please note that given the brevity of papers and large number of participants, The Courtauld cannot cover travel or accommodation costs (though lunch, refreshments and a subsidised supper will be provided).

Organised by:

Stefania Gerevini (Bocconi University, Milan)

Tom Nickson (Courtauld Institute of Art, London)

CFP: Ars et Scientia (Cleveland, 27 Oct 17)

oresmeCase Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, October 27, 2017
Deadline: Jul 16, 2017

Ars et Scientia: Intersections of Science and the Visual Arts

October 27th, 2017

Despite the semantic divide that seems to separate art and science in modern culture, the boundaries between the two disciplines have always been fluid and permeable. From the earliest recorded botanical illustrations, painted on papyrus scrolls in Egypt in the 2nd century AD, to contemporary artist Josh Kline’s use of 3D printing in his work, art and science have long been used in tandem to make sense of the world and explore our place within it. The working notes of printers like Louis-Marin Bonnet as they experimented with the technique of chalk-manner engraving resemble nothing so much as a scientist recording data and observations for his experiments. Representations of the scientist at work in his laboratory also abound, from Pieter Bruegel’s Alchemist to Joseph Wright of Derby’s An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, and serve as social commentaries on the role of the scientist in society. More recently, scientific technologies have proven to be invaluable tools for the modern art historian and museum curator, allowing us to better understand artists’ working methods and materials through the use of imaging technology and chemical analysis. This symposium seeks to foster a re-examination of the complex interactions between artistic and scientific disciplines that are more interdependent than they first appear.

We welcome innovative research papers from graduate students of all disciplines that challenge the divide between humanities and STEM fields. Papers may explore aspects of this topic across any time period, medium, or geographical region.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • depictions of scientists, doctors, astronomers, engineers, etc. at work
  • visual evidence for the transmission of scientific knowledge between cultures scientific diagrams: anatomical, botanical, astronomical, alchemical, etc.
  • technical art history
  • art that incorporates the use of novel technologies: for example early printing or photography, video art, 3D printing aestheticized technology, such as astrolabes and globes microphotography or photographs of patients/specimens
  • descriptions of artistic methodologies in terms of scientific

    For consideration, please submit a 350-word abstract and CV to clevelandsymposium@gmail.com by July 16, 2017. Selected participants will be notified by early August. Paper presentations will be 20 minutes in length, and participants will be invited to author a blog post about their research to be published at clevelandsymposium.tumblr.com.

    Please direct all questions to Aimee Caya and Erin Hein at clevelandsymposium@gmail.com.

CFP: Trecento Art beyond Italy Deadline 28th May 2016

Crevole Madonna Panel Session at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, Chicago, 30 March – 1 April, 2017

Trecento Art beyond Italy (session sponsored by the IAS at the Chicago RSA):

There is a great corpus of scholarship regarding the debts of Trecento visual culture to Byzantine, Gothic, and Islamic art or architecture. There remains considerable space, however, to explore how Trecento architects, artists, and objects shaped contemporaneous visual culture beyond the Italian peninsula, in regions including the Latin East, the Balkans, Byzantium, Bohemia, England, and the papal court of Avignon. The multiple sources of transmission involved traveling artists, churchmen, crusaders, courts, merchants, and portable objects themselves. In 1373, for instance, the merchant Francesco di Marco Datini asked an agent to buy devotional panels in Florence to resell at Avignon: “Let there be in the center Our Lord on the Cross, or Our Lady, whomsoever you find—I care not, so that the figures be handsome and large…and the cost no more than 5.5 or 6.5 florins.”

This panel investigates the impact of Trecento visual culture on monuments abroad, taking a critical approach to causation in artistic practice. Speakers might focus on workshop technologies and other mechanisms of distribution, international networks of patronage, the relative competencies of patrons and craftsmen in constructing specific images and buildings, and examples of assimilating new visual idioms with preexisting ones. They are further encouraged to take a critical approach to the ritual or ideological implications of artistic transmission. Lastly—recognizing the fluidity of objects, ideas, and people—speakers are welcomed to comment on the rewards or pitfalls of recasting the Trecento artistic domain as a more dynamic, relative, and international phenomenon than traditional narratives have permitted.

Please send a brief abstract (no more than 150 words); a selection of keywords for your talk; and a brief curriculum vitae (300-word maximum in outline rather than narrative form) to amy.gillette@temple.edu by 28 May 2016.


Jobs: Two Tenure-Track Positions, Ancient World/Medieval World (University of California, Santa Barbara, 1 July 2015)

1) Tenure-Track Position in the Architecture, Urbanism, and Visual Culture of the Ancient World
2) Tenure-Track Position in the Art and Architecture of the Medieval World
Department of History of Art & Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara
Deadline: 18 October 2014

UOCThe Department of History of Art & Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara, invites applications for two tenure-track Assistant Professor positions in Architecture, Urbanism and Visual Culture of the Ancient World, and Art and Architecture of the Medieval World beginning July 1, 2015. Candidates are expected to have a Ph.D. in the history of art and/or architecture or a related discipline, with demonstrated excellence in research and teaching to complement the department’s global strengths in art and architecture and its Architecture & Environment Emphasis. UC Santa Barbara encourages interdisciplinary studies and there will be opportunities for contributing to an Environmental Humanities initiative on campus, and for engaging with departments such as Classics, History, Medieval Studies, and the Ancient Borderlands Research Focus Group. The successful candidates will be expected to teach a wide variety of courses ranging from undergraduate surveys to advanced graduate seminars. The department is especially interested in candidates who can contribute to the diversity and excellence of the academic community through research, teaching and service.

1) Assistant Professor: Architecture, Urbanism and Visual Culture of the Ancient World
We seek a colleague whose research focuses on the cross-cultural dynamics of the ancient world, including classical Greece and Rome and their far-flung territories, but also other regions and empires of the ancient Mediterranean. The ideal candidate will be theoretically informed, bringing critical perspectives to their teaching of ancient architecture and urbanism, with broader expertise in such areas as archeology, museology, visual culture, and/or digital media.

2) Assistant Professor: Art and Architecture of the Medieval World
We seek a colleague whose research makes new contributions to the understanding of cultural
interchange in the medieval world. While the candidate’s research may focus on any medium and scale of analysis — painting, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, architecture, and cities — we will expect the successful candidate to demonstrate a facility in exploring diverse media to engage larger issues related to social, political, and technological change in the medieval world.

To apply:
Please create an account and complete the online application at

The online application will require (1) a cover letter, (2) a statement of research and teaching interests, (3) a curriculum vitae with full contact information, (4) one or two publications or writing samples (5) three letters of recommendation submitted directly by referees through https://recruit.ap.ucsb.edu.

Please send queries about the position to search@arthistory.ucsb.edu. The subject line of the email must clearly state the position for which the candidate is applying. For full consideration, submit all application materials by October 18, 2014.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or any other characteristic protected by law including protected Veterans and individuals with disabilities.

Call for Papers: A Companion to Seals in the Middle Ages (Brill’s Companions to Medieval Sources)

battle-seal[1]Decoding Medieval Sources (Brill’s Companions to Medieval Sources)
A Companion to Seals in the Middle Ages

Medieval seals were material and visual statements of identity, power, agency, and legitimacy that could operate locally or traverse great geographic expanses to assert individual or corporate authority. The importance of the seal in medieval culture cannot be underestimated. This inter-disciplinary, edited volume seeks essays analyzing seal design, production, meaning, usage and reception in the Middle Ages. As a whole, the volume will critically engage with the historiography of seals as well as highlight new approaches to understanding seals across time and space with emphasis on Europe, the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and Byzantium c. 1100-1500. Essays therefore must include historiographical, regional and thematic explorations of medieval seals. Scholars from a range of disciplines, such as but not limited to History, Art History,Numismatics, Archaeology, Cultural and Visual Studies, are invited to contribute new and innovative examinations of select seals or seal types in context. Essays should appeal to the specialist as well as students of medieval history. Submissions are especially welcome from scholars whose work locates seals within broader developments in medieval social codes and visual or material culture.

Topics of Interest:
The Production of Seals
Ownership, Access and Usage
Authority, Ritual and the Practice of Sealing
Seals and their Documents
Sign Theory and Seals
Heraldry and Seals
The Body and the Seal
Gendering the Seal
Identity (individual or corporate) and the Seal
Seals and Foundations or Networks
Place and the Seal
The Seal and Visual Culture

Please submit a 250-word abstract for an article-length study and a CV to Laura Whatley (whatlel@ferris.edu)
and Charlotte Bauer (bauersmi@illinois.edu) by October 31, 2014. The essays in the volume will be in
English, but Brill can fund some translations of contributions from continental scholars.


Fellowship: Pre- or postdoc fellowships at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence

Fellowship: Pre- or postdoc fellowships 
The Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz
Application deadline: 15 August 2014

The Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max Planck Institut is pleased to place a call for applications to pursue studies in Art History within the independent Max Planck Research Group (MPRG) “Objects in the Contact Zone – The Cross-Cultural Lives of Things”, directed by Eva-Maria Troelenberg.

– 1-2 pre- or postdoc fellowships for up to 6 months, beginning approximately 1 October 2014 
– 1 student assistant position (BA or MA level, 80h/month) for October – December 2014

KHIThe research group seeks to adapt the notion of the “contact zone” as a key term, connecting it to the object: non-European objects which are shown and stored in Western museums or collections, reproduced in Western media or are regarded, described, analyzed and categorised through a Western lens – such objects are situated in a contact zone. This follows approaches of cultural anthropology, while maintaining genuinely art historical solutions as the investigative aim. As such, these contact zones create particular conditions of perception and reception, resulting both from the object’s own aura, provenance, or biography and from the recipient’s predisposition and intentions.

Following a potentially asymmetric, but basically reciprocal or polycentric working hypothesis of transculturation, we are looking at case studies which can shed significant light on the production of knowledge in such contact zones.

Our examples deal with the interrelation between particular objects or groups of objects and their cross-cultural reception as mediated through museums, collections, publications or other visual or performative cultural practices in the colonial and postcolonial age. We are mainly focusing on exchange processes within the larger modern Mediterranean and its global connections.

Together, our case studies can bridge the theoretical space between cross-cultural studies and visual culture phenomena and may also induce critical reassessments of established narratives, categories and key terms such as the very idea of “transculturation” itself. As our work is embedded into questions of institutional history as well as into the history of science, knowledge and representation, our overarching research queries have developed significantly towards fields such as:

– museum theory and exhibitions in cross-cultural context
– agency theories for polycentric and transcultural art histories
– political and social functions of aesthetic differences and convergences
– critical approaches to canon and chronology in art history

For further information on the MPRG see also

Fellowship applications in German or English language should include 

– detailed CV
– research proposal (max. 4 pages)
– list of publications and one substantial writing sample
– one letter of recommendation

Student assistant applications should include

– letter of motivation
– CV
– one letter of recommendation
– certificate of matriculation

Please send your electronic application in one pdf file (max. 2 MB) by 15 August to troelenberg@khi.fi.it.

The Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz is an equal opportunity employer and particularly encourages applications from women and disabled persons. Fellowships follow the rules of the Max Planck Society.

CFP: Meanings of Erasure (Kalamazoo, 14-17 May 2015)

CFP: Meanings of Erasure
Session at the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies
Kalamazoo, 14-17 May 2015
Deadline: 15 September 2015

erasureRecent scholarly interest in whiteness, emptiness, and material destruction that pervade medieval visual culture demonstrate a shift in focus: where art historians have historically focused on figuration, they now turn to the instances of material absence. This session will explore the notion of erasure and its function in transforming the object being partially or completely defaced, expunged, rubbed out. How does erasure augment and subvert the meanings of the original image? What does it tell us about the process of engagement with medieval material culture? Does erasure ever equal silence, or does it announce itself as a loud presence on manuscript pages, stone exteriors, and wood and canvas surfaces? And what of the erased word: how does that compromise or transmute the complex text-image relationships? Submissions from scholars in any discipline are welcomed.

Please send your abstract, along with the paper proposal form (which can be found here: http://www.wmich.edu/medieval/congress/submissions/index.html), to Elina Gertsman at exg152@case.edu, by September 15, 2014.