“Text-in-Image in Early Modernity”: BASIRA Call for Papers for RSA 2025 conference, due Aug. 8th 2024

The BASIRA Project has issued a call for papers for the Renaissance Society of America annual conference in Boston, March 20–22, 2025.

Text-in-Image in Early Modernity

Much recent scholarship has focused on the myriad interdependencies of text and image in the early modern period, while generally upholding distinct medial boundaries for each. However, rather less attention has been paid to texts that exist as elements within the visual world of the depiction: in books held by readers, scrolls grasped by prophets, banderoles proffered by angels, the unfurling utterances of muses, “speaking” epigraphic inscriptions, and more. This session, which draws inspiration from the recently launched Books as Symbols in Renaissance Art database (https://basira.library.upenn.edu) seeks papers that engage with the depiction of texts within artworks. We ask: what are the unique affordances of script when it is painted or carved within a visual field? What insights do we gain from considering the representation of writing as a blurred medial zone, rather than a binary superposition? What are the synergies of image and script?

The intended purview is broad. Potential topics might include: the legibility or non-legibility of depicted script; vernacular versus Latin or Greek inscriptions and their intended audiences; texts added or appended to images by later users; the formats of the documents depicted and the implicit meaning of such iconographic choices; loquacious artworks and the agents within them; the influence of epigraphy versus that of book scripts; the difficulty of rendering text with a tool other than a quill; and the share of the artist versus that of the patron. Ultimately, the session seeks to understand early modern images not solely as byproducts or corollaries of text, but rather as vehicles for enhancing and superseding the abilities of the visual or the verbal alone.

Please send abstracts of 250 words accompanied by a CV to Nicholas Herman (hermanni@upenn.edu) and Barbara Williams Ellertson (bellertson@icloud.com) by August 8th 2024. Successful applicants will be notified by August 12th 2024.

See call for papers and conference details here.

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