Artifacts, Imagination, and the Practice of Aeronautics
(apologies for any cross-posting)
the Centre d’histoire des techniques et de l’environnement (CDHTE/CNAM)
and the Centre Alexandre Koyré – Centre de recherches en histoire des sciences et techniques (CAK- CRHST/CNRS)
with the participation of
the Aéro-Club de France, the Département d’histoire de l’armement (DGA/CHEAr)
and the Musée de l’air et de l’espace
and supported by numerous institutions, associations and firms (list forthcoming)
Paris, November 13-14-15, 2008
Conservatoire national des arts et métiers
Cité des sciences et de l’industrie
Musée de l’air et de l’espace, Le Bourget
Bruno Belhoste (Paris I), Agnès Beylot (SHD/DA, Vincennes), Hans Joachim Braun (Helmut Schmidt Universität, Hambourg), Claude Carlier (Paris III), Thérèse Charmasson (CAK-CRHST/CSI, Paris), Joseph Corn (Stanford University), Tom Crouch (National Air and Space Museum/Smithsonian Institution, Washington), David Edgerton (Imperial College, Londres), Patrick Fridenson (EHESS, Paris), Pascal Griset (Paris IV), Vincent Guigueno (LATTS/ENPC, Marne-la-Vallée), André Guillerme (CDHTE/CNAM, Paris), Peter L. Jakab (National Air and Space Museum/Smithsonian Institution, Washington), Christine Macleod (University of Bristol), Caroline Moricot (Cetcopra/Paris I), Antoine Picon (Harvard University, Cambridge; LATTS/ENPC, Marne-la-Vallée), Dominick A. Pisano (National Air and Space Museum/Smithsonian Institution, Washington), Frédéric Pousin (LADYSS/CNRS, Paris), Daniel Roche (Collège de France, Paris), Vanessa Schwartz (University of Southern California, Los Angeles), Guillaume de Syon (Albright College, Reading), Christian Tilatti (Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace, Le Bourget), Kazuo Wada (Université de Tokyo), Andrew Whitelegg (Georgia State University, Atlanta), Robert Wohl (UCLA).
Submissions of proposals (title and 1-page abstract), short CV by March 31, 2008, to firstname.lastname@example.org
The following themes are suggested as departure points.
1. Thinking, transferring and experimenting with flight
Be it through the thought process or the invention of speed and propulsion power, one wishes to clarify the transfer links between ballooning and aviation, emphasizing the evolutionary and stationary phases. Aeronautical knowledge was built through teaching and
innovation and eventually stabilized through teaching and evolution within companies. The first ballooning flight indeed crystallized into a restricted technology )linked to the impossibility of steering), but also to the knowledge acquired in the military and scientific fields of the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as the practices of fair balloonists and manufacturing families. Technical evolution surrounding dirigibles, engines and gliders offer new contributions, early thoughts on aerodynamics, linked clearly to flying, are formulated more rigorously (see Jules Marey). Actors and production structures, be they individual experiences or engineering practices raise new questions about flying.
2. Flight, Overflight and the Change of Space
Flight initiates a revolution whereby humanity rethinks its relationship to surrounding space. The worldwide extension of airlinks create new infrastructures in the urban landscape that symbolize the anchoring of said routes (runways, terminals). Such physical evidence, alongside “immaterial” ones (traffic corridors, beacons)are all concrete elements of an aerial culture.. Not only is it the result of functional adjustments linked to technology developments, but such infrastructure is also the result of the relationship with overflown space. Furthermore, one needs to investigate differently the flux of cargo and travelers that change
the notion of cross-border movement and to incorporate into the field of research questions linking imagination, art, architecture, air routes and territories.
3. The Practice of Flight
With the birth of professionalization appear standards, rules and licenses, as well as the creation of international and administrative organizations. The expansion of aerial mobility
diminishes the personal exploit in favor of the mass phenomenon; the focus is now on the aviation corporation, where the engineer has a say, and on air transport for passengers. One wonders, however, about such evolution, as the individual achievement continues to exist in the sports and military aviation, as well as in space.
One may wish to consider how air transport has changed the art of travel, and to reexamine the physical experience and practices in private and commercial flights, but which does not focus on aviation alone (airship “cruises”) and opens new paths of understanding.
The actors in this canvas range from the occasional passenger to include on-board staff and ground staff.
4. Artifacts and Memory: Conservation, Collection, Gatherings, Shows
Aerial memory relies as much on archives (public or private) as it does on objects (be it a balloon of 1796 housed in Army Museum in Vienna, or aircraft seats at the Air France Museum). In addition to the big archival and photographic holdings gathered at the Service
historique de la défense (Vincennes) or the material spread out among non specialized archives, museums play a central role, They are national (Musée de l’air et de l’espace at le Bourget; Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum) or private regional museums, Otto Lilienthal Museum, Zeppelin Museum)and were built on the basis of private collections, themselves constituted in the 19th century by collecting manuscripts and photographs. The point is to analyze the process of collecting and preserving, as well as the history of the building of these collections. In the context of reflecting on the industrial patrimony, the development of aeronautical industries have prompted companies, often on the basis of enthusiasts contact, to engage in a process of emphasizing their own legacy.. This new development is problematic because preservation is not the primary function of such companies. Be they virtual museums or documentation centers, these nonetheless offer new sources for historians.
For further information or a pdf version of the cfp, please contact members of the organizing committee or Guillaume de Syon at email@example.com
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