CFP: Seeing Perspectives Crossways / RSA 2014

full name / name of organization: 
Michael Saenger and Sergio Costola, Southwestern University

Seeing Perspective Crossways

A Proposed Panel for the Renaissance Society of America 27-29 March, 2014 in New York City

The story is familiar: Fourteenth-century artists in Italy developed a variety of new strategies to represent space, but it was only with Filippo Brunelleschi that linear perspective was advanced as a monologic tendency that would typify modern visual regimes and allow the manipulation of reality through calculation and exclusion. Elsewhere in Europe, figures like Shakespeare and Rabelais have been celebrated for going in the opposite direction, constructing a multiplicitous humanism that John Keats famously characterized as "negative capability." However, the development of perspective in the Renaissance was both more pervasive and more convoluted. Unitary perspectives could be imagined within chaotic aesthetics, and deeply disintegral action could be made to seem harmonious. Further, any aesthetic configuration must occur within a social and historical scene, which inevitably complicates matters, because wider cultures sought coherence along confessional, linguistic and ideological lines, even as their social worlds were riddled with divergent forces caused by political, societal and religious change. Indeed many models of social life in the Renaissance offered ways to conceal or efface multiplicity, and such schemes are equally present in dramatic, textual and visual art of the period. We invite papers that mediate between societal, visual and textual perspectives, as well as between
continental and English culture.

How were unified perspectives rendered dialogic or multiplicitous? And how were ostensibly chaotic perspectives structured by emerging models of coherence? How do recent theoretical developments mitigate our perception of perspective in the past?

Proposals welcomed from literary studies, theater history, art history and history.

Please submit a 250-word abstract, along with a current CV, to Michael Saenger ( and Sergio Costola
( by May 30, 2013.