Boredom and Banality - Renaissance Society of America, Berlin (March 26-28, 2015)

full name / name of organization: 
Heather Muckart and Lisa Andersen (University of British Columbia)

Boredom and Banality - RSA Berlin (March 26-28, 2015)

The banal—that which is seen to lack any originality—is often considered both an undesirable and uncritical quality in an artwork. This negative interpretation can be partially attributed to the avant-garde preference for the 'new' and a modern valuation of art based in the art market. Likewise, the experience of boredom in viewing an artwork—where a lack of interest dominates the viewing experience—is seen as the mark of artistic failure. Boredom, however, can act as the impetus to both art's production and its contemplation. Similarly, it is the repetitious nature of the banal that often connects a work to a larger artistic oeuvre or tradition. Upon close analysis, the concepts of boredom and banality betray a complex, often complimentary relationship to notions such as attentiveness, affect, imagination, and meaning.

From a reconsideration of Dutch realism to the exploration of Renaissance and Rococo ornament, recent theoretical interventions have begun to reevaluate boredom and banality as potentially resituating or broadening our understanding of the role and experience of art. We invite proposals for papers that consider art and its production and experience in the early modern period in relationship to the terms of boredom and banality, and the related concepts of the copy, repetition, melancholy, and the commonplace.

Please send your paper title, abstract (150-word maximum), keywords, and a brief CV (300-word maximum) to Heather Muckart and Lisa Andersen at by June 3, 2014.