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RSA (Renaissance Society of America), 2-4 April 2020, Philadelphia

CFP: The Image of the Book: 1300–1600

How did artistic representations of the book convey meaning during the period of technological transition from manuscript to print? How can a two- or three-dimensional image of a codex or early printed edition—be it shown open, closed, thumbed, crumpled, clutched, manipulated, shrouded, overturned, splayed, stomped, balanced or burnt—convey the rich and extended linguistic content of a bound volume? How did painters, sculptors, illuminators, embroiderers, draughtsmen, glaziers, and printmakers engage with the medium of the book, both as a related artistic object and as a vehicle for conveying dense, textual meanings?
      Representations of the book can be analyzed from a range of perspectives and disciplines in order to better understand specific bookbindings or scripts, the history of reading and literary practices, the development of liturgy, the rise of personal devotion, the maintenance and display of private and institutional libraries, the advent of printing, changes in religious iconography, and more. But the study of such images can also allow for deeper readings of the symbolic and metaphorical capabilities of representation, the ability of an image to “speak a thousand words,” and the relative merits of verbal versus visual communication.
      This session seeks to assemble speakers who will address the depiction of books in painting, sculpture, print, and other art forms from one or more of these angles, with an eye towards understanding images as mediated signs as opposed to transparent representations of “real” objects and practices.
       The session will be held in conjunction with the Books as Symbols in Renaissance Art (BASIRA) Project, currently being developed to enable a high-quality, searchable scholarly database of such representations.
        Please submit a paper title, 150-word paper abstract, and CV, to both organizers listed below by August 10th, 2019.
Nicholas Herman
Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, University of Pennsylvania
Barbara Williams Ellertson
BASIRA Project

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