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Art History CFPs for RSA 2017 Chicago
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Therapies of Art and Literature in Early Modern Europe

Posted By Mitchell B. Merback, Friday, May 20, 2016
Updated: Saturday, May 21, 2016

This session invites papers that consider the variety of ways the visual and verbal arts in Early Modern Europe could address themselves to their audiences as forms of therapy, at its origins (θεραπεία, therapeia) a word encompassing notions of care, attention, treatment and healing. What kinds of images, what kinds of writing, were constituted as therapeutic practices designed to move the body, the mind, and the soul from one state to another, from illness to health? How far could ancient philosophy's medical analogy be applied in offering beholders, or readers, a therapy of the passions? Did late medieval and Renaissance artists in Europe, like poets and pastoral authors, consciously step into the role of medicus animorum, offering remedies for the suffering or melancholic soul? How did the expectation of benefits aroused by images compare with the presumed effects of rhetorical comfort, guidance, and care? Does a therapeutic intent or purpose predispose a poet or an artists to employ certain rhetorical or stylistic modes, or to display certain skills appropriate to the recommended treatment for misery? How were therapeutic practices and regimes articulated to reflect particular ideas about the self, the human personality, emotions, and the body -- their nature and their ecology? How were therapeutic ideals inflected by gender, social standing, attitudes toward pain or death, or shaped along the lines established by confessional identity? What kinds of therapies were supra-confessional?

To submit a paper proposal for this session, please send a Word-doc or PDF to Mitchell Merback ( by June 3, 2016. Please include the presenter’s first and last name; academic affiliation and title (or “Independent Scholar”); e-mail address; your paper's title (15-word maximum); an abstract (150-word maximum); a short author's bio (300-word maximum; please follow the CV guidelines and models on

Tags:  art history  history of medicine  literature  philosophy 

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