51st International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo: Call for Papers

Pardon Our Dust: Reassessing Iconography at the Index of Christian Art

51st International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 12-15, 2016 Deadline: September 15, 2015

Organizers: Catherine Fernandez and Henry Schilb (Index of Christian Art, Princeton University)

The Index of Christian Art (ICA) at Princeton University houses the largest archive dedicated to the study of medieval art in the world. It was founded by Charles Rufus Morey in 1917. Created with the intention of cataloguing all known works of medieval art according to subject matter, the Index developed over the course of the twentieth century into an ever-expanding resource for the study of iconography. Although the archive originated as a physical catalogue, the information contained in the subject files began migration to an online database in 1991. Now in its ninety-eighth year of existence, the ICA has embarked on yet another conceptual and technological upgrade that will embrace a more capacious understanding of medieval iconography through improved functionality while preserving the knowledge amassed by Index scholars during the previous century. Ever mindful that the ICA depends on the scholarship of medievalists in order to maintain the database for our researchers, we will sponsor two sessions that underscore this fruitful reciprocity. As we reassess how specific fields are used within our records, we seek the input of scholars who are actively engaged with themes related to medieval iconography in the broadest sense of the term. By focusing on issues related to the medieval program and ornament, the panels address categories that currently merit further consideration as fields of inquiry within the database.

We invite papers that explore new interpretive approaches or historiographical analyses as a means to stimulate a lively conversation on the ICA’s mission as an iconographical archive in the twenty-first century. In mirroring the Index’s wide geographical and chronological spectrum, we welcome proposals that explore any artistic media produced during the Middle Ages in the Byzantine East and the Latin West. Papers may consider specific case studies or address more theoretical concerns.

I: Program
As Michel Pastoureau has observed, the concept of “program” as an art historical term has been anachronistically applied to the study of medieval art. The notion that an assemblage of images adheres to a conceptual unity governed by the explicit wishes of an individual or corporate patron remains a source of debate in the iconographic interpretation of any number of monuments, manuscripts, or individual objects. We seek papers that consider the advantages and limitations in using the idea of “program” as an interpretive approach. We welcome proposals that investigate themes related but not limited to the role of patronage and iconography of medieval art works, the question of iconographic unity in monuments, and the disjuncture between the textual and the visual in the scholarly ekphrases of “programs” in medieval art.

II: Ornament
Ornament occupies an ambiguous position within the study and classification of medieval iconography. Recent scholarship, however, has underscored the significance of ornament as a bearer of meaning. We welcome proposals that investigate the role of ornament as an iconographic element within works of medieval art. Topics of interest include the iconographic function of vegetal ornamentation, the role of ornament as a frame for narratives and portraits, the use of decorative motifs as expressions of archaism or “foreignness,” as well as new approaches in the language of describing medieval ornamentation.

Please send the abstract of your proposed paper (300 words maximum), CV with current contact information, and completed Participant Information Form, available here, to the organizers:

Catherine Fernandez (caf3@princeton.edu) and Henry Schilb (schilb@princeton.edu)

Deadline: September 15, 2015


Past Conferences and Events

November 23rd, 2013
Delaware Valley Medieval Association - Meeting of November 23, 2013

October 25th and 26th, 2013
Manuscripta Illuminata - Approaches to Understanding Medieval & Renaissance Manuscript

June 26th, 2013
The Digital World of Art History 2013: From Theory to Practice

March 15th and 16th, 2013
Maps & Diagrams in Medieval Art

October 5th and 6th, 2012
Medieval Patronage: Patronage, Power and Agency in Medieval Art

July 12th, 2012
The Digital World of Art History

May 7th, 2012
Ethiopians and Ambiguity in Late Medieval Art

October 14th and 15th, 2011
Re-Defining Byzantium: Art and Thought in the Byzantine World

March 17th and 18th, 2011
From Minor to Major: The Minor Arts and Their Current Status in Art History

November 11th, 2010
Weaving the memory of a Celtic past: tales of Ireland in a treasured archive

March 16th and 17th, 2010
Insular and Anglo-Saxon, Art and Thought in the Early Medieval Period

October 30th, 2009
Liminal Spaces - A Symposium in Honor of Pamela Sheingorn

March 19th and 20th, 2009
Gothic-Art & Thought in the Middle Ages: A Conference in Honor of Willibald Sauerländer

October 16th, 2008
Arts of the East ~ Byzantine Studies in Princeton

March 14th and 15th, 2008
LOOKING BEYOND... Visions, Dreams and Insights in Medieval Art and History

June 12th, 2007
Databases and Medieval Scholarship

May 8th, 2007
The Cross in Image and Text: A Celebration of the Ninetieth Anniversary of the Foundation of the Index of Christian Art

April 20th, 2007
Matters Iconographical – Celebrating Ninety Years of the Index of Christian Art

February 2nd, 2007
The Medieval Arts of North Africa and the Near East

October 26th and 27th, 2006
Romanesque Art and Thought in the Twelfth Century

April 29th, 2006
Spanish Medieval Art: New Approaches and Studies

April 8th and 9th, 2005
Interactions: Artistic Interchange between the Eastern and Western Worlds in the Medieval Period

October 1, 2004
The Index of Christian Art – An Afternoon of Medieval Art at Princeton University

March 27, 2004
Between the Picture and the Word: The Book of Kings (Morgan 638) in Focus: A Colloquium in Honor of John Plummer

October 24th, 2003
St. Denis Revisited: The Man, The Art and the Architecture

March 23rd and 24th, 2001
Objects, Images and the Word: Art in the Service of Liturgy

March 5th and 6th, 1999
From Ireland Coming: Irish Art from the Early Christian to the Late Gothic Periods and its Context within Europe

October 28th and 29th, 1997
Iconography at the Index – Celebrating Eighty Years of the Index of Christian Art

February 16, 1996
Devotions for Women: Books of Hours from the Thirteenth to the Fifteenth Centuries

April 22, 1995
Art and Ritual at the Threshold: The Imagery of Portals in Medieval Europe

March 23rd and 24th, 1990
Iconography at the Crossroads