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The Problem and Promise of the Baroque: New Approaches in Research, Historiography, and Pedagogy

Posted By Rachel Miller, Monday, April 10, 2017

In the 2011 book, Rethinking Baroque, editor Helen Hills and the contributing authors proposed to both interrogate and re-energize the study of the baroque, a much-maligned concept and one Hills termed the “grit in the oyster of art history.”  The authors sought to come to grips with the term from a wide array of chronological and methodological approaches, problematizing and reshaping the landscape of inquiry.  By contrast, the following year Gauvin Bailey’s Baroque and Rococo re-entrenched the Baroque as a category for study, seeing it as a moment of unified global exuberance.  More than five years later, however, it is unclear where these two divergent approaches have left researchers and teachers. In what ways is the Baroque continuing to be critically reevaluated and used as an interpretive tool? Where does the study of Baroque art currently stand and where is it going, especially in relation to the rising emphasis on the “Early Modern”? What is at stake in surrendering the Baroque in favor of modernity? Hills herself asked “Can the apparent contradictions between periodization and critical strategy be reconciled?” In this panel, we seek to engage with and extend these questions.

This session will examine the utility of the ‘Baroque’ in several different ways.  First, we are interested in historical case studies of objects, spaces, and experiences that engage with or challenge the Baroque style in new and exciting ways. We are open to research that argues for the preservation of the term as a site of legitimate scholarly discourse or provides a compelling argument to reject it.  Second, we seek approaches that deal with the historiography of the Baroque, but also with the state of the field, critically interrogating the risks and benefits of how we discuss periodization and the problems inherent in a linear approach to art historical inquiry.  Third, we seek to include papers that address what is at stake pedagogically when dealing with the period 1580-1730. How do educators approach the paradox of the Baroque at a time when the term itself has been challenged and reassessed in ways that are not often reflected in standard undergraduate course offerings and textbooks? How do we leverage these complex discussions into more fruitful classroom discourse?  Papers need not deal with all three prongs of inquiry though crossover is encouraged.

Please submit your paper proposal by May 15 to Saskia Beranek (srb43@pitt.edu) and Rachel Miller (Rachel.miller@csus.edu). Proposals must include the following:

·      Name, affiliation, email address

·      Paper title

·      Abstract (250-word maximum)

·      Keywords

·      CV (1 page)

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Tags:  Art History  Baroque  Case Studies  Historiography  New Approaches  Pedagogy 

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