CFP: [Cultural-Historical] ASTR Seminar: Unsettled Possibilities: Mapping the Space of the Panoramic

full name / name of organization: 
Susan Tenneriello
contact email:

ASTR/TLA Conference, Unsettling Theatre: Migration, Map Memory
Boston, Massachusetts
November 5-9 2008

Working Session Call for Particpants: Deadline 6 June 2008

         â€œUnsettled Possibilities: Mapping the Space of the Panoramic”

Barbara Lewis, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Susan Tenneriello, Baruch College, CUNY

        A novel form of public display at the end of the eighteenth
century, the painted panorama featured in exhibitions and touring
theatrical entertainment immersed spectators in an “all embracing” view
of artistically rendered phenomena. Quickly catching on in America,
panoramic display remained in vogue through the end of the nineteenth
century, surrounding the spectator in the teeming vastness of the city,
the complexity of nature, the passion of war. From the moving diorama,
onto cinematic “screens,” and into the spatial architecture of amusement
parks, malls, and tourist resorts, the panorama continues into the twenty-
first century in virtual dimensions. Recently, panoramic exhibitions by
artists such as Kara Walker and Olafur Eliasson reinvestigate panoramic
experience as reflective/refractive spaces.
        Historically, the panorama reified the prevailing vantage and
also functioned as a portal for new groups to push into visibility.
Current investigations into perspective space foregrounded in Paul
Virilio’s Open Sky and Anne Friedburg’s The Virtual Window: from Alberti
to Microsoft call attention to the disappearance of fixed references.
Today, the panoramic experience circulates off imagined horizons, without
temporal or physical constants. With the worldview split and segmented,
like the monitor, into multiple frames, what does the persistence of
panoramic windows as “metaphor” promise? The overriding question relative
to the panorama remains the changing definition of national belonging and
borders, reconfigured temporally and spatially by war, by territorial
expansion, and by immigration. As expanse, the panorama negotiates the
unbounded magnitude of a complex, changing, and shared world.
        We invite papers that consider the panoramic in photography,
cinema, commerce, architecture and urban planning, on stage, in tourism
and museum exhibition, or as public display. Our lens is
interdisciplinary. Our objective is not only to discover the spine
articulating and mapping the panoramic from the eighteenth century until
today but also to contemplate how the digital has impacted its evolution.
Proposals may consider but are not limited to the following questions:

• What informs interactions between the panoramic and technology? How
does the cinematic" and "scenic" connect to the e/motion of the panoramic?
• What panoramic viewpoints emerge in the contemporary streetscape, which
registers an increasingly global character? What are the political
ramifications of illusionary space?
• Who controls and manipulates the panorama? Is the panorama an
instrument of exclusion or inclusion, of democracy or elitism?
• What accounts for its elasticity and prevalence? What aspects of the
panorama lie in the history of visual art, architecture, dance,
literature, or drama?
• What are the roots and offshoots of panorama in Europe, Asia, Latin
America, the Caribbean, and Africa?
• To what extent does the panorama operate as an imaginative space in
which to reinvent and reframe identities?
We ask seminar participants to send a 500-word abstract, institutional
affiliation, and contact information to seminar co-leaders no later than
6 June 2008. and
Seminar Format
Once co-leaders have selected participants, we will distribute abstracts
to all participants in July 2007. Following that, we ask that each
participant submit an 8-10 page working paper in September 2008. Co-
leaders will pair participants for on-line discussion prior to the
conference in order to develop two to three threads that emerge. Co-
leaders plan to engage participants and audience in critical dialogue
with the aim of creating a framework of major themes and areas for future

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Received on Wed May 14 2008 - 13:17:56 EDT

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