The Multi-Media Middle Ages
Sponsor: The International Center of Medieval Art
Organizers: Melanie Garcia Sympson and Trevor Martin Verrot
Like an image, a medium has the capacity to speak, and different media speak their own language. This panel seeks to focus attention on the media of medieval image-making, whether wood, stone, ivory, glass, parchment or paper, or pigment itself. Medium refers both to the material substratum of a given work, with its array of connotations, and to a capacity to realize and disseminate form and information. It is clear that the medium itself often conveys meaning, and that different media gained significance in relation to one another, whether in composite works or through transferred effects. A discussion of media implies a consideration of change and transformation; new media and new artistic processes affected the production and reception of images and the development of new iconographies. The analysis of media in the medieval period offers an opportunity to examine the connotations of material, and to bring home the point that significance rested not only on the ostensible content of an image but also on its status as an object in a medium.
With this in mind, we invite papers that explore multiple points of departure relating to media. Consider hierarchies among media, for example: While an image may have a life independent of its medium, images rendered in various media seem to have varying worth. Was it a matter of material value alone? Alternatively, to what extent did “accidental” properties of particular media inflect the representation of a single iconography? How did workshop practices, or considerations of labor and artisanry, limit (or stimulate) stylistic change and the development of new iconographies? Relatedly, how were displays of effort and skill registered as value? Could transfers of effect from one medium to another–simulated effects–add value? And finally, perhaps most fundamentally, is the term media itself still useful in light of recent work within the conceptual framework of materiality?
To propose a paper, please send an abstract and a completed Congress Participant Information Form, available on the Congress website, to one of the organizers. Proposals should be emailed no later than September 15th to Trevor Martin Verrot (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Melanie Garcia Sympson (email@example.com).
Time and the Medieval Object
Sponsor: The Material Collective
Organizers: Gerry Guest and Maggie Williams
This session will consider the complex relationship between art objects and time in the Middle Ages and beyond. It proceeds from the notion that medieval things refuse to remain fixed in single temporal moments. Instead, they reach back into the past and also anticipate their future lives through a variety of strategies, both materialist and idealist.
Medieval objects are regularly marked by a temporal instability. Ancient and foreign spolia were integrated into fine golden church furnishings and reliquaries. Composite objects made connections across time through stylistic affiliations and iconographic citations, and they were regularly altered through the addition of new components and the removal of old. They were also subject to wear and tear through ongoing use and occasional repurposing. Gifting and other changes of setting created complex genealogies mapped out over time. Medieval objects continued to exist beyond the Middle Ages, and their impact on subsequent moments in time could also be a focus for proposed papers. Speakers should feel free to draw on theoretical developments in areas such as object-oriented philosophy, thing theory, and other realms of thought. Please send brief abstracts (no more than 500 words) by August 31 to Gerry Guest (firstname.lastname@example.org) and/or Maggie Williams (email@example.com).
Eco-Critical Approaches to Medieval Art: East and West
Sponsor: The International Center of Medieval Art
Organizers: Anne Harris and Nancy Sevcenko
How did the use of natural materials affect the meaning of medieval works of art? How did the act of representing nature construct the concept of the natural? What do medieval works of art reveal about the interaction of natural forces and human agents? Ecocriticism explores conceptualizations of nature, both in its material presence and in its abstract representations. It invites a study of medieval art with a keen interest in the “stuff” of nature used in the fabrication of art (wood, stone, glass, gem, metal, vellum, and ivory) as well as in the “image” of nature produced by visual representations (in the form of landscapes, gardens, animals, stones, trees, flowers, the human body, the cosmos). Personified as the “Child of God and Mother of things” by Alain of Lille, Nature transmitted a divine agency into the material world. In Christian Materiality, Caroline Walker Bynum argues for devotional objects as “disclosures of the sacred through material substance.” How can we investigate medieval art objects at their point of intersection with natural matter and human experience?
This panel seeks to reassert and explore the agency of natural matter upon its human “interactors” through both devotional and secular works of art. We invite papers that explore the materiality of works of art as it relates to the natural world, that analyze the representation of nature as it conceptualizes nature, and/or that localize works of art within cultural constructions of the natural. Beyond being curious about the ability of works of art to “reflect” attitudes to nature, this panel asks how works of art in the European, Byzantine and Islamic Middle Ages shaped conceptions of the natural, made nature present within a devotional or secular context, and evoked the divine agency of nature through its materiality.
Please send paper proposals consisting of a one-page abstract and a complete Participation Information Form (available on the Congress website) by September 15 to either one of the organizers: Anne Harris: firstname.lastname@example.org and Nancy Sevcenko: email@example.com.