Call for Papers: Body and Matter in Medieval and Early Modern Arts

IMAGO – The Israeli Association for Visual Culture of the Middle Ages, and the Department of Literature, Language and Arts, Ra’anana, 10 April 2019

להשתתף בכנס אימגו ה-12

אימגו – העמותה הישראלית לתרבות חזותית בימי הביניים ותחום תולדות האמנות באוניברסיטה הפתוחה מזמינים חוקרים/ות ותלמידי/ות מחקר לתארים מתקדמים להגיש הצעה להשתתף בכנס אימגו ה-12 אשר יתקיים באוניברסיטה הפתוחה, קמפוס רעננה, ביום חמישי 10.4.2019.

את ההצעה יש לשלוח לפרופ´ מתי מאיר, מארגנת הכנס, לדוא”ל לא יאוחר מתאריך 30.10.2018.

Send your abstract to:

Fresco inside the church of Agios Joannis Theologos Monastery, Patmos island

The centrality of the human body and the complexity of its study in a range of fields in the humanities and the social sciences has been acknowledged since the 1970s. The philosopher and theoretician Rosi Braidotti contended that it is a series of semiotic ciphers designating “a point of overlapping between the physical, the symbolic, and the sociological,” and “a layer of corporeal materiality, a substratum of living matter endowed with memory.” The body is also understood as a meaningful site at which social practices and experiences are realized, and it is known to incorporate symbolic and semiotic meanings alongside embodied actions and feelings. As discussed at length by Caroline Bynum, the human body is at once synonymous with anything material and with its own material components, as experienced by both men and women in miracles of feeding and devotional practices.

This conference is designed to assess the intersection of body and materiality by considering such questions as: In what ways do the “material” aspects such as pictorial elements (paint) and the physical support of a work of art (parchment, canvas, wood, stone, etc.) reinforce and emphasize the representation of the human body? Does the analysis of the intersection of body and matter in devotional practices help us to grasp cultural perceptions and ideologies? How can the materiality of the painted or sculpted body be understood in its political dimension? How has the notion of the body and its materiality been used for purposes of patronage and identity? Are there material substances that may gender and sexualize the human body and, if so, in what ways? What holds memory and sanctity for the devotees: the material (i.e., textiles, stone, bodily remains) or the representation (figurative), and how do these interact with and converge in the real body of the viewer? Is the material of an artwork more important than the form and content or vice-versa? Or does is the representation more important than the material?

Proposals for talks can relate (but are not limited) to the following topics:

  • Conceptualizing the body and materiality in art
  • The physical and artistic materiality of the body
  • Aestheticizing the body in its artistic material aspects
  • The iconization of the material body
  • The material body as a site of cultural memory
  • The carnal and the spiritual body
  • Body, matter, and traces of time
  • The use and abuse of the material body in art
  • Somaticism and imagination
  • Material as body or versus body

The keynote lecture will be delivered by Professor Sherry Lindquist, faculty member of the Department of Art History, Western Illinois University, Macomb (IL).

  • Up to 250 words
  • Send before 30 October 2018
  • Include applicant's name, professional affiliation, and a short CV
  • Each paper will be limited to a 20-minute presentation
  • All applicants will be notified regarding acceptance of their proposal by 31 January 2019

For more information or any further inquiries please contact the conference chair, Mati Meyer –

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