CFP: A Cabinet of Curiosities (11/30/05; ACLA, 3/23/06-3/26/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Nhora Lucía Serrano
contact email: 

" A Cabinet of Curiosities: Objectifying the Human from the
Renaissance to the 21st
Panel for the 2006 American Comparative Literature Association Annual
March 23 - 26, 2006
Princeton University
Deadline for papers: November 30, 2005

We invite papers for the seminar panel, "A Cabinet of Curiosities:
Objectifying the Human from the Renaissance to the 21st Century," as
part of the American Comparative Literature Association's (ACLA) 2006
Annual Meeting: The Human and Its Others.

Paper proposals (250 words) for 15-20 minute papers should be sent
directly to
the ACLA website, The
is November 30, 2005. The conference may also be found by going to
the ACLA

If you have any questions about this particular seminar, please
contact the seminar organizer at

SEMINAR DESCRIPTION: A Cabinet of Curiosities: Objectifying the Human
from the Renaissance to the 21st Century
Seminar Organizer(s): Nhora Lucia Serrano, University of Wisconsin-
Madison; Janelle A. Schwartz, Hamilton College

A phenomenon in the Renaissance that proliferated Europe throughout
the 16th and 17th centuries, the cabinet of curiosities was in essence
a personal collection of rare, unknown and marvelous objects. Popular,
visual and encyclopedic in their approach, these cabinets, or
Wunderkammern, included a diversity of specimens from both known and
newly discovered worlds–from unicorn tails to monkey teeth, Indian
canoes to phosphorescent minerals, carrots to pinned insects. These
collections of curious objects that are seemingly not human in nature
require the idea or application of human characteristics and traits to
describe their inhuman state. In this act of collecting, categorizing,
displaying and recording, the idea of a Natural Order and what it
meant to be human were thrown into question by philosophers,
scientists, theologians, and poets alike. Taking a broad view of this
cabinet of curiosities, the seminar's aim is:

1) to investigate the varied, changing, and possible forms of the
cabinet itself (e.g. personal collections, Natural History museums,
aquariums, zoos, circuses, scientific notebooks, anatomy halls,
libraries and scriptoriums).

2) to examine the curiosities that were/are collected (e.g. artifacts,
fossils, internal organs, organisms both rare and common, maps,
cultural objects, literary texts, art).

3) to evaluate and reflect upon the manner, instruments, and results
of such collecting (e.g. use of the microscope, surgical instruments,
optics, and galvanism, as well as the creation of museum guide books,
specified taxonomies, and rubrics of Science and Religion).

Both theoretical analyses and textual comparisons are welcome. The
seminar welcomes papers addressing those and other related questions
through texts from various disciplines (literature, critical theory,
cultural studies, anthropology, visual arts, film studies, etc.).

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Received on Thu Nov 03 2005 - 12:46:34 EST