Ephemerality and Durability in Early Modern Visual and Material Culture

Calls for Papers, News;

Colloquia at CRASSH, University of Cambridge: 24-25 May 2013 and

The USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute, Huntington Library, San Marino, California: 27-28 September 2013

Call for graduate / early career participants

 Studies in the visual and material culture of the early modern world have recently focused on the concrete materiality or ‘thingness’ of things.  But why is it that certain early modern things endured while others did not?  Was it because of the intrinsic properties of their materials or other reasons: use and abuse, cultural or religious value, chance or neglect?  How should we study those artefacts that have not survived, or which have endured in an imperfect state: the broken, incomplete, cast off and lost things of the early modern world?

This pair of colloquia will examine the fragility and robustness of early modern objects, exploring not only the matter of their material, but also the transitory or forgotten ways in which they were experienced and used.  Reflecting on the sensory and temporal dimensions of artefacts, we will consider the effects upon them of memory, habit, and custom, exploring themes such as impermanence, decay, repair, and recycling.  While seeking to recapture the early modern contexts that determined ephemerality and durability, we will ponder also the unspoken gaps in museums, libraries and archives, and how these themes shape current scholarship.

The colloquia will be an opportunity for graduate students and early career researchers to present work-in-progress and to discuss their research with established local and international scholars.  Confirmed participants in the Cambridge colloquium include Prof. Peter Stallybrass (UPenn), Prof. Christine Göttler (Bern), Dr Niall Atkinson (Chicago), Dr Marta Ajmar (V&A), Prof. Jacob Soll (USC), Dr Jessica Keating (USC).  Funding for travel and accommodation is available to enable participants to attend the California meeting.

Those interested in participating in either colloquium should submit by Monday 25 March a 500-word abstract of their proposed topic, a CV, and a letter of support from their supervisor (if a graduate student) or an academic reference (if an early career researcher).  Applications will be reviewed by the colloquia organisers and the successful applicants notified by mid-April.  Preference may be given to those applicants willing and able to participate in both colloquia.

Applications should be in Word or PDF format and should be sent via email to Francé Davies: France.Davies@aha.cam.ac.uk.  Informal enquiries may be addressed to the programme Director, Dr Alexander Marr: ajm300@cam.ac.uk.

The colloquia have been organised under the aegis of the CRASSH-EMSI collaborative programme Seeing Things: Early Modern Visual and Material Culture, http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/page/1159/seeing-things.htmSeeing Things is generously supported by CRASSH, EMSI, the Dean Joan Schaeffer Fund of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, the Huntington Library, and a Cambridge Humanities Research Grant.

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