Call For Papers, NeMLA, Boston:
Prior to the mid-nineteenth century, allegorical figures in visual culture served as vehicles that transmitted traditional metaphorical meaning, following conventions on which most educated, European viewers agreed. Yet amid the cultural upheavals of the fin-de-siecle and lasting well into the twentieth century, a transformation occurred as these established codes gave way, leading towards powerful and alternative forms of signification. Images of allegorical bodies lost their earlier connections to conventional signification, and emerged anew in the personally inflected languages of Symbolist art and literature as the human body became an ideal expressive form for personal or hermetic layers of meaning.
Spanning the productively ambiguous space between traditional structures of visual language and the more complex strategies of fin-de-siècle and Surrealist art, this panel examines the modern subcurrent of Symbolist imagery in endless re-inventions of the human figure as allegory. From maidens to monsters, robust heroes to decrepit zombies, allegorical bodies express our hopes and fears, enabling our expressive impulses and indulging our cultural fascination with ideals and their corresponding antitheses. Embodied allegory continues to inform contemporary visual culture, found in the sculpture of Kiki Smith and the photographs of Cindy Sherman, the films of Ridley Scott and the graphic novels of Neil Gaiman, and will continue to shape our imaginations in the century to come. This panel will consider embodied allegories as sites of multivalent meaning in visual culture, located in the space between traditional forms and new visual practices from the 19th through 21st centuries.
Send 300-word abstracts by September 30, 2012 along with a CV to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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