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POWER AND IMAGE IN EARLY MODERN EUROPE
Call for Papers
New York University
March 24-25, 2006
Guy Debord has argued that, “the spectacle inherits all the weaknesses
of the Western project which undertook to comprehend activity in terms
of seeing.” In his 1967 study of the role of image and spectacle in
modern societies, The Society of the Spectacle, Debord anticipated
much of the cultural debate that has predominated in the late
twentieth century. Does the growth of the power of image mirror the
development of modern societies, as Debord maintains, or,
alternatively, is the image capable of autonomy from social and
economic influences? This conference reexamines the exchange between
power and image in the context of Early Modern Europe.
How have patrons, artists, and consumers acted upon and reacted
to the image? How do some images achieve a privileged and even sacred
status, while others become figures of the negative and the “Other”?
If awareness of the power of image in visual and literary culture is
tied to self-consciousness and “modernity,” how have artists explored
the conflict between representation and essence? Seeing and seeming?
We encourage participants to address these questions through an
interdisciplinary approach that considers social, cultural, political,
and economic forces in Early Modern Europe. Possible paper topics
include but are not limited to:
-The relationship between political power and the advancement and
censorship of the arts.
-The sanctification and de-sanctification of power through “image
awareness” in Renaissance political thought: the case of Machiavelli
-Idealization of the image: utopia and dystopia.
-The images of imitation and emulation: antiquity in Renaissance
-Imperial image in political programs.
-The image of the "Other": the minor, marginalized, transgressive and
-Visual and literary portraiture: picturing genders.
-The image of the Word: the rise of the vernacular poetry and literacy
in secular societies, and visual culture and literature (ut pictura
-Brave New Worlds: literary imagination of geography, mapping, and
-The spectacular in baroque music and theater.
-The image of the Body: materiality and immateriality in the
construction and presentation of bodies; dressing and fashioning the
-The use of figurae in the instruction and communication of theology.
-The use of image in the art of memory.
-Rhetorical discourse and design of architecture and cityscape: public
space, domestic architecture, and interior layout; the “ideal city.”
-The use of optical devices and the technique of perspective in the
-Astrological vision: Marsilio Ficino’s astrological magic and
horoscope; astrological causality.
The conference will take place on March 24 and 25, 2006, at the
NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò.
Presentations are allotted 20 minutes with additional time for
question and response. Please submit an anonymous abstract of no more
than 250 words by January 15, 2006. Include a cover letter with the
title, author’s name, university affiliation, telephone number, and e-
mail address. All abstracts must be in English or Italian.
Interdisciplinary approaches and fields outside Italian Studies are
encouraged. Submissions are only accepted from graduate students.
Please send all abstracts to the conference organizers: Valerie
McGuire, Gaoheng Zhang, and Jessica Goethals, at
This conference is cosponsored by: the Italian Graduate Student
Association, the Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, the Dean's Office of
Graduate School of Arts and Science, and the Medieval and Renaissance
Center of New York University.
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or write Jennifer Higginbotham: higginbj_at_english.upenn.edu
Received on Tue Nov 29 2005 - 16:28:34 EST