Marginalized Bodies: Studies in Deformities and Disabilities in Early Modern Art

full name / name of organization: 
Sandra Cheng / CityTech, CUNY
contact email: 
schengnyc@gmail.com

Marginalized Bodies: Studies in Deformities and Disabilities in Early Modern Art

Deformities and disabilities have been depicted in art since antiquity, and yet a comprehensive text on the subject as it pertains to art of the Early Modern era has yet to be written. Barry Wind glosses over the topic in A Foul and Pestilent Congregation, dealing primarily with dwarfism and gibbosity as they pertain only to the themes of “the world upside down” and the Commedia dell’ Arte. These tropes of entertainment or curiosity are also discussed in monographs, mainly on artists like Velazquez and Callot, again limiting the discussions to depictions of dwarves at court and the comical aspects of deformity. Deformities and disabilities also figure in texts on teratology and the kunstkammer, for example, Datson and Park’s Wonders and the Order of Nature. The richness of the social, cultural, religious, political, and philosophical aspects of deformity and disability in the Early Modern era have yet to be revealed. We wish to address this lacuna in Early Modern art scholarship by producing an anthology that integrates all aspects of deformity and disabilities as depicted in Early Modern art, utilizing an all-inclusive perspective. We seek papers that offer particular case studies on Early Modern depictions of deformities and disabilities that address the subject from this broader outlook.

Topics might include the apotropaic qualities of deformity and disabilities, deformities and disabilities as a means to exercising charity—the Catholic and Protestant approaches, deformed and disabled beggars, deformed and disabled saints, demonizing/idealizing deformities and disabilities, deformities and disabilities caused by disease, deformities and disabilities as reflections of sin, deformity and disability in mythology, deformed and disabled artists, aging and disability in artists and patrons, considerations of deformities and disabilities in architecture, the theoretical aspects of depicting the hideous in art, the treatment of deformity and disability in portraiture, concealment/disclosure of deformities and disabilities, and scapegoating the deformed and disabled at times of catastrophic events.

To be considered for the project, kindly submit a 500 word abstract to Sandra Cheng (schengnyc@gmail.com), Kimberlee A. Cloutier-Blazzard (kac9b@mindspring.com), and Lilian H. Zirpolo (lilianzirpolo@gmail.com), along with a short CV, by September 15, 2012.

cfp categories: 
interdisciplinary
renaissance