Making Meaning: Technologies of Transformative Production and Creative Consumption I: Manufacture of Meaning; II Diachronic Redefinition
Session Co-organizers: Eric Ramírez-Weaver (UVA) & Christopher Lakey (Johns Hopkins University/PIMS)
Current methodologies in cultural history and Medieval Studies have attempted to resituate and reorient the traditional historical emphasis upon the creative body as a uniquely enabled and inspired force capable of transforming vatic and imaginary experience into material reality. Methodological turns in favor of “object agency” and the “Posthuman” privilege the vagaries and vicissitudes of natural processes of growth, entropy, or decay, as transformative and generative modalities of metamorphosis. In light of such transformative processes of delayed definition and perpetual refinement, or spiritually based interaction with medieval objects, the nature of medieval art, science, and creativity need to be seriously reconsidered. Devotional accretion of object value in the case of reliquaries, erosion of buildings and historically holy sites, pagan springs turned into great churches with baptismal fonts, manuscripts and catenae with endless annotation, compilatio as an ethos of
creation rather than indifferent agglomeration, the editing or revision of texts, the reintegration of spoliated materials, and the scars of growth cast across the fabric of architectural monuments all supply meaningful examples of the myriad ways acts of creative intervention infused the material culture of the Middle Ages with polyvalent semiotic possibilities. In this series of sessions, we welcome proposals that address these issues with a focus on the (I) Manufacture of Meaning and (II) Diachronic Redefinition.
(I) Manufacture of Meaning
It is considered somewhat axiomatic that medieval objects, manuscripts, and great churches provide crafted confessions of belief and desire. Rather than privileging the alleged intellectual motivations of the manufacturer, however, in this session papers are sought which interrogate the role of the object or monument in cultural history. In particular, papers which address the interconnected nexus of ties which link great churches to their communities, pilgrims to their objects of veneration, artisans to their techniques, families to their dynastic nobility or medieval towns, or artists to guilds and changing modalities of artistic production are sought. Papers are welcome which examine the creative opportunity of the work of art or architecture to participate in or regulate the evolution of viable modalities of creative expression, establishing the parergonal parameters for subsequent semantic investigation.
(II) Diachronic Redefinition
In this session, discrete strategies of creative intervention emphasize the diachronic historical transformations of sites, objects, rhetoric, ideas, and the reproductive possibilities of countervailing, non-hegemonic discourses during the medieval period. Scholars such as Carolyn Dinshaw have underscored the ways that meaning is created and renewed across time through the meaningful interaction of recurring encounters with the past in an evanescent present. Taking seriously the idea that forgotten and historically recorded encounters across time establish an interlocking nexus of meanings through which individual narratives or artworks need to be (re)interpreted by modern cultural historians, this session seeks papers that address standard and atypical monuments evoking scorn or derision, propaganda, historicity, critique, ephemera, dissent, reaction, censure, or creative reinterpretation. Papers are warmly invited which grapple with the methodological impact of medieval texts and artworks, documenting creative moments of social and spiritual transformation, syncretistic exchange, and public or political challenge.
We welcome one-page proposals (250-300 words). They should be sent along with a completed participant information form (found at http://www.wmich.edu/medieval/congress/submissions/index.html) to Eric Ramírez-Weaver firstname.lastname@example.org) and/or Christopher Lakey (email@example.com) by September 15, 2014.
Eric Ramírez-Weaver firstname.lastname@example.org) and/or Christopher Lakey (email@example.com) by September 15, 2013
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