From March 17 to June 26, 2005, the Art- and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn and the Ruhrlandmuseum in Essen will show the exhibition:
Crown and Veil: The Art of Female Monasticism
The exhibition is dedicated to all forms of female religiosity from the early Middle Ages until the Reformation. The focus is on works that were made by and for nuns and canonesses. Special attention will be paid to the role of women in medieval art, be it as artists, patrons or, collectively, as an audience.
The exhibition will present the artistic production by and for medieval nuns and canonesses both in relation to its diverse functions (piety, liturgy, instruction, ceremony) as well as in terms of its content (iconographic traditions, knowledge, theology, norms, genres) and formal dimensions.
Approximately 600 prestigious loans from an international array of lenders, including churches and surviving monastic communities, will be on exhibit for a period of three months, among them numerous textiles and a great many ensembles that were scattered with the dissolution of monasteries and that will be reunited for the first time in the exhibition. The chronological span of the exhibition extends from the sixth to the sixteenth century. The section in Essen will exhibit objects from all over Europe from the early and High Middle Ages (6th through 12th centuries); the section in Bonn concentrates on the later Middle Ages (13th through early 16th century) within the borders of the Holy Roman Empire.
The colloquium mirrors the thematic, chronological and topographical emphases of the exhibition. Its aim is both to reflect and further encourage the intensive research of recent years on female monasticism of the medieval period in the context of an international and interdisciplinary gathering. The focus will be on groups of themes (see below), which have been selected both to further research and with the content of the exhibition in mind.
Contributions to the colloquium should concentrate on subjects that (in the broadest sense) bring together and interrelate historical, art-historical and literary-historical perspectives. Purely historical, art-historical or philological contributions will not be considered.
The colloquium is currently scheduled to take place from May 18-22, 2005 in Bonn and Essen.
We are seeking papers on the following topics and themes:
1. Forms of Life
“Crown and Veil”: Representation of chastity; the symbolism of rites of profession.
Double monasteries: modalities of collaboration between paired communities.
Ideals and realities: the role of art and literature in the process of reform, e.g.,the “Speculum virginum”, the production of tapestries and reform in the 15th century.
Representations of enclosure, e.g., the hortus conclusus.
2. Images and Spaces
Functions and uses of works of art and liturgical objects.
Sacral topography: the disposition and decoration of spaces; hierarchy in cult, liturgy (men and women) and the decoration of architectonical space;interrelationship of image and space.
Liturgy and civic space, e.g., in the celebration of Easter liturgies and Passion plays; holy sepulchres (rites, inventory, choreography, processions).
Image, space and prayer: devotional practice and devotional spaces, visions and mystical experience.
An iconography of female monasticism? Specifically female genres?
Art of the orders? A workable category?
Tombs of founders and donors.
3. Artistic Production in Convents
Men in female monasteries: the role of bishops, priors, canons, confessors, visitation in artistic production (choice of themes, theological programs, conception and execution of works of art).
“Nonnenarbeiten” (nuns’ work) or “art”? Style, technique and content in manuscripts and textiles; is there a „female aesthetic“?
Crossover between cloister and the world in the production of texts and images (cf. section 4).
Cf. section 1: Ideals and realities: the role of art and literature in the process of reform.
Cf. section 2: Images, space and prayer: devotional practice and devotional spaces, visions and mystical experience.
4. The Cloister and Lay Culture
Cult images in monastic complexes and their adoration by the laity.
The laity in female monasteries: influence and representation of donors and patrons, family members and friends of female religious.
The exchange of images and texts between the cloister and the world: patronage,commissions, commercial production (textiles, e.g., bridal and familial tapestries), gifts and donations.
Gender-specific divisions of labour in the monastic as well as the lay sphere?
Secular iconography in the cloister.
Adaptations: the reworking of secular clothing in liturgical garments, the reuse of jewellery (clasps, rings, belts, etc.), coats-of-arms.
Vernacular and Latin.
Also sought are contributions on individual objects or groups of objects that will be shown in the exhibition (for further information, please contact: Dr. Jan Gerchow: email@example.com and Dr. des. Petra Marx: firstname.lastname@example.org). The outline of the exhibition, which can be found on the web, can also serve as a list of potential themes and topics.
Papers should be short, no more that ca. 20 minutes in length, and will be discussed collectively in workshops. Papers can be delivered in German, English or French. A minimum of a completed M.A. degree is a precondition for presenting a paper.
It will also be possible to use posters and placards to present work in progress.
If you wish to participate, please submit the following (by email) no later than March 1, 2004:
an abstract, ca. 1-2 pages (no more than 3000 characters).
a provisional working title.
a short cv.
a list of your most important prior publications on the topic.
For topics prior to 1200, send your materials to:
Prof. Dr. Hedwig Röckelein
Historisches Seminar der Georg-August-Universitär Göttingen
Platz der Göttinger Sieben 5
For topics from 1200 to 1530, send your materials to:
Prof. Dr. Jeffrey Hamburger
Dept. of History of Art & Architecture
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
The curators of and collaborators on the exhibition will review all proposals by June 2004 in order to determine which are consistent with the goals of the colloquium. The entire enterprise requires financing, which we are in the process of seeking.
Lothar Altringer (Bonn)
Jan Gerchow (Essen)
Jeffrey Hamburger (Harvard)
Carola Jaeggi (Erlangen)
Susan Marti (Essen)
Petra Marx (Bonn)
Hedwig Roeckelein (Göttingen)
Robert Suckale (Berlin)
Dr. des. Petra Marx
Art- and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany
D - 53113 Bonn
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