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Rethinking the Dialogue Between the Visual and the Textual. Methodological Approaches
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6/20/2013 to 6/22/2013
When: 20-22 June 2013
Where: Leiden University

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Rethinking the Dialogue between the Visual and the Textual. Methodological Approaches to the Relationships Between Religious Art and Literature (ca. 1400-1700)

A conference at LUCAS (Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society) organised by Ingrid FALQUE and Geert WARNAR

20-22 June 2013

In collaboration with GOLIATH, GEMCA (Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-La-Neuve) and the Scaliger Institute (Universiteit Leiden)

And with the support of the "Fondation pour la protection du patrimoine culturel, historique et artisanal” (Lausanne)

PRESENTATION In recent decades, the interactions between religious art(s) and literature(s) – and more generally between text(s) and image(s) – in the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Period have been an important area of study for many scholars working in the field of the humanities. More particularly, the study of the interconnectedness of texts and images and of the contact zones between visual arts and literature constitute an emerging field that is particularly stimulating for both art historians and historians of literature. Growing awareness that texts and images functioned in the same community of discourse and were destined for the same audiences means that art historians frequently turn to texts to enlighten the functions and meaning of works of art. Similarly, historians of literature are increasingly bringing images in their analysis of literary works. Many scholars also consider texts and images together – as equivalent sources – in order to study cultural phenomena, concepts and notions. These scholarly interests in the relations between art and literature generate a range of general methodological and theoretical questions: how can a text be used to understand an image? How can an image help to discern the meaning of a text? How do we interpret texts and images together in order to understand the religious culture of these periods? How do we consider them in relation to each other, without underestimating the specificities of each medium? What are the purposes and aims of the combined study of these sources? During this conference, we would like to focus on the methodological approaches to the relationships between religious art(s) and literature(s) of the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period, with special emphasis on the mystical traditions of these periods. The conference aims to explore not only the many forms of interactions between religious texts and images in this period, but also the methodological and theoretical issues they imply in order to sketch an overview of the different approaches used by scholars while studying texts and images together. Among others, the following forms of dialogue between the visual and the textual will be at the centre of this enquiry: the influence of spiritual authors on pictorial practices; the visual and textual discourses on images in mysticism; the impact of works of art on religious literary production; the complex text/image relationships in illuminated manuscripts, in printed books or in emblems books; the links between visual and biblical exegesis, the connections between painters and rhetoricians, etc. On a more general level, speakers will discuss how religious texts and images can work together in order to produce meaning, the capacity of a text not only to signify but also to represent, and the ability of a work of art (or an image) not only to depict but also to produce sense. The invited speakers will address methodological issues while presenting case studies in order to reflect on the richness of seeing and reading in late Medieval and Early Modern literature and art, as well as the diverse ways in which scholars put the visual and the textual into dialogue with each other.


Date:20-22 June 2013

Venue: Leiden University, University Library (Grote vergarderzaal), Witte Singel, 26-27, Leiden

Information and Registration: Ingrid Falque ( Programme:

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