49th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 8-11, 2014
Controlling the Power of Material Things
Theresa Flanigan, The College of Saint Rose, firstname.lastname@example.org
Holly Flora, Tulane University, email@example.com
Much recent scholarship has expanded our understanding of the active nature of medieval objects, which we now know were thought capable of penetrating and transforming other objects in their vicinity, including the bodies and souls of their beholders. In addition, new materialist theories (of Jane Bennett, Diana Coole and Samantha Frost) have called scholars to consider the ethical implications of such intimate relationships between material things and their beholders. The ethical implications of this newly (re)discovered intimacy between medieval humans and objects calls for greater investigation. This session seeks papers that further our understanding of the affective power and material vibrancy of medieval objects by inquiring into the various methods used to control or condition the beholder’s ethical experience and/or response to such objects. Such methods might include: training on how to use, interpret, and/or respond to certain objects, regulation of the use of certain materials, instructions on sensual contact, limits on access to or total censorship of “dangerous” objects, encouragement of experiences beyond the materially sensible, and artistic theory indicating how art objects should be made or experienced. How might past strategies inform current “posthumanist” thinking about the ethical relationship between humans and material things?
Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words by e-mail to both Theresa Flanigan, The College of Saint Rose, firstname.lastname@example.org and Holly Flora, Tulane University, email@example.com by September 15, 2013.
The College of Saint Rose
432 Western Avenue
Albany, NY 12203
(518) 485-3900 (art office) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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