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Art History CFPs for RSA 2018 New Orleans
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This blog is for CFPs for sessions in art history for RSA 2018 New Orleans. Members may post CFPs here: sign in to RSA and select "add new post" to do so. Your post should include a title, and the CFP itself should be no longer than 250 words. Adding tags (key words) to your post will help others find your CFP. Make sure the CFP includes the organizer's name, email address or mail-to link for email address, and a deadline for proposals. Non-members may email to post a CFP. Please use the email address of the session organizer posted in the CFP to submit a paper proposal. CFPs are posted in order of receipt, with the newest postings appearing at the top of the blog. Members may subscribe to the blog to be notified when new CFPs are posted: click on the word Subscribe next to the green checkmark above.


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The Aesthetics of Suffering in Early Modern Europe

Posted By Sarah R. Kyle, Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Boccaccio described Florence in 1348 as a living tomb riddled with fear and hypocrisy where “the multitude of the deaths . . . was such that those who heard the tale . . . were struck dumb with amazement.”  His account of the incomprehensibility of the Black Death roughly coincides with the beginning of a seismic shift in the conceptualization of suffering.  Pre-modern European sensibilities generally regarded suffering, even its most extreme forms, as part of an inalterable divine order of redemption—nowhere more evident than in the ubiquitous image of the Crucifixion.  However, by the time of the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 philosophers like Voltaire found it impossible to make sense of “evil” with reference to the plan of God.  Between the Black Death and the Lisbon earthquake, the human ability and responsibility to reshape nature radically increased, even though the response to suffering was still unstably compounded with the pious acceptance of suffering.  From “dance” or “triumph” of death imagery to illustrated parables, humanist iconographies of “soul care,” and physicians' regimens of physical and mental health, artists, writers, and philosophers navigated the space between meaningless and meaningful tragedy, depicting suffering in ways that reflected and shaped the shifting cultural ground that would eventually consolidate the modern concepts of nature, pain, and medicine. This session invites papers that explore questions of how visual art created an aesthetics of suffering to explore the spaces between meaningless and meaningful tragedy.

Please send your proposal (150-word maximum), paper title, and a brief CV (300-word maximum) to Sarah Kyle ( and Scott Samuelson ( by Friday, June 2, 2017.

Tags:  Art History  Devotion  early modern  history of medicine  humanism  interdisciplinary  magic  poetry and painting  punishment  Religion  ritualized responses  sensory experience 

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Early modern sensory and spatial thresholds

Posted By David Karmon, Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Sensory studies have begun to critically expand our ways of thinking about how people interacted with buildings and spaces in the early modern world. This session builds on this momentum by exploring the sensory experience of early modern physical environments, focusing in particular on how the experience of thresholds, edges, and borders triggered powerful responses and shaped new kinds of knowledge. Cultural anthropologists such as Arnold Van Gennep and Victor Turner have long emphasized the significance of such liminal transitions, the ceremonial “rites of passage” that signal key moments of transformation. It is clear that sensory experience plays a vital role in negotiating these transitions, where our sensitivity to sensory stimuli is often at its most acute precisely at the moment when we first enter into a new setting. How did people in the early modern world respond to these sensory impulses, where entering a new physical environment might also mean entering into a new state of being?

Proposals should include the author’s name, professional affiliation, and contact information; a preliminary title; a brief abstract (150 words or less); a brief curriculum vitae (300 words maximum). Please submit proposals to by Wednesday 31 May 2017.

Tags:  architecture  corporeality  early modern  new approaches  senses  sensorium  sensory experience  sight  smell  sound  space  taste  touch  urbanism 

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“Deep Classics” and the Renaissance

Posted By Caroline G. Stark, Thursday, May 4, 2017

As a new Associate Organization of the Renaissance Society of America, the Society for Early Modern Classical Reception (SEMCR) invites proposals for papers to be delivered at the 2018 meeting of the RSA in New Orleans, LA.  For one of its inaugural panels, SEMCR invites abstracts on “Deep Classics” and the Renaissance.

Drawing on metaphors from fields as diverse as geology and evolution, the concept of “Deep Classics” has recently arisen out of, and in response to, the extraordinarily fertile field of classical reception studies. The term itself signals a consciousness of the distance, occlusions, and multiple strata that define any engagement with classical antiquity. In what has amounted to a programmatic statement of Deep Classics - or, perhaps more aptly, a programmatic fragment - Shane Butler has described its focus as “the very pose by which the human present turns its attention to the distant human past” (S. Butler, Deep Classics: Rethinking Classical Reception, Bloomsbury 2016). Although the founding volume of Deep Classics continues a trend in classical reception study, especially in the UK, of privileging Greek over Latin and modernity over early modernity, Butler is acutely sensitive to the broader applicability of the idea - “indeed, certain aspects of that pose have been important to Renaissance studies for a while now” - citing Barkan and, more recently, Nagel and Wood. We therefore welcome proposals that explore the relationship between Deep Classics and the Renaissance, in particular concerning ideas that “have less to do with ‘knowing’ than with other modes of affect and experience”.  In accordance with another central feature of Deep Classics, we also seek proposals that interrogate disciplinary configurations and self-conceptions.

The Society is committed to creating a congenial and collaborative forum for the infusion of new ideas into classics and early modern studies, and hence welcomes abstracts that are exploratory in nature as well as abstracts of latter-stage research.

Abstracts (150 words) and a short CV (300 words) should be sent as separate email attachments to (see the RSA's abstract guidelines and CV guidelines and models) by May 31, 2017.  The abstracts will be judged anonymously: please do not identify yourself on the abstract page.

Please include in the body of the email:

  • your name, affiliation, email address
  • your paper title (15-word maximum)
  • relevant keywords

Tags:  antiquity  Classical Reception  Classics  distance  Early Modernity  Renaissance  self-conception  sensory experience 

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Posted By Thalia E. Allington-Wood, Thursday, May 4, 2017

Drowning, falling, floating, growing, burning, melting. How are elements figured in Renaissance and early modern artistic representation? From imagery of earth, water, air and fire, to the more ubiquitous sense of temperature, weight, darkness and light, how does visual culture contribute to an understanding of the elements in this period? From the thrusting up of rocks from beneath the earth through volcanoes and earthquakes, to the wide expanse of the cosmos, knowledge of natural phenomena was prominent in the Renaissance and early modern imagination. How do objects harness the elements in their production? What, for example, is the role of fire and earth in metal works and ceramics? Equally, how did elemental forces act upon and alter works of art – from physical damage to the influence of regional topographies, materials and pigments?

The landscape of elemental physics changed dramatically between 1300 and 1700. This history is characterised by a broad paradigm shift from a sublunar, terrestrial world made up of the four elements and their specific material attributes (hot, cold, heavy, light), to a globe experienced through Mercator’s seas, Galileo’s sky and Newton’s earth. Yet the elements, their effects upon the body, their power to manifest material things – and how they are imagined and contested in visual culture – do not always sit easily within this chronology. The representation of these forces is the focus of this panel. It is a subject that has the power to open up broader concerns regarding memory, motion, travel, sensory experience, metamorphosis, environmentalism and networks of knowledge exchange – social, cultural and political.

We welcome papers from across disciplines, from within Europe and beyond Western contexts. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

- The elements and their early modern properties: Earth/ Rock, Water, Air, Fire; hot, cold, wet, dry, heavy, light.
- Elements as complex, compound mixtures.
- Materiality & Making: sculpture and stone, ceramics and glass, metal and fire, water and fountains, earth and pigments.
- Elemental/ material states: solid, liquid and in-between.
- The effects of the elements upon the body: falling, burning, pain, joy, drowning, disease, phenomenological and sensory approaches to elemental force.
- Understanding within academic disciplines: natural philosophy, alchemy, chemistry, theories of metamorphosis.
- Cosmos: stars, sky, separation of celestial and terrestrial physics.
- Gravity.
- Light & Shadow.
- Manifestations of the elements in nature: wind, clouds, volcanoes, rivers, the sea, mountains, natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, storms.
- Connections to landscape, geography, environmentalism, catastrophism, the non-human.
- Water & Travel: wetscapes, navigation and shipwreck, hydrographies.

Please send a paper title, abstract (150 word maximum), keywords, and a brief curriculum vitae (300 word maximum – see RSA guidelines for requirements) to and by 31 May 2017


Tags:  Air  Art  Art History  artistic process  bodies  body  cosmos  Early Modern  Earth  Elements  Fire  gravity  materiality  metamorphosis  natural history  nature  New Approaches  Renaissance  sensory experience  temperature  Visual Culture  Water  weight 

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