Call for papers, Crossing the Boundaries XX: Icons

The Art History Graduate Student Union and the Medieval and Early Modern Society are soliciting proposals for Crossing the Boundaries XX, a multidisciplinary, multi-vocal academic conference with a global geographic and broad temporal reach. Please see the call for papers below:


April 13-15th, 2012

Binghamton University

Keynote Speakers:

Ondine Chavoya, Williams College; Barbara Abou-el-Haj, Binghamton University

Call for papers: From the sumptuous Byzantine icons adorning church walls to Virgen de Guadalupe’s painted in barrio murals, the history of visual culture has produced a complex and immeasurably vast lexicon of images which have come to bear the weight of entire histories, cultural identities and political imperatives.  Icon, from the Greek for “image,” signals the depth of meaning a particular image is assigned by a group of people, whether they be joined in faith, race, politic, time or geography.  Icons have the ability to launch wars and generate peace; to embody the sacred and the profane; to stand-in for deities and destroy them.  The value the global economy has placed on images for their capacity to stand for personal, religious, familial, cultural, corporate and/or historical ideologies is at the heart of this conference, entitled, simply, Icons.

We seek papers which address the subject of icons from any historical and disciplinary perspective.  Some of the questions we seek to consider are: How do icons acquire the particular value assigned to them? How does this value shift, evolve or dissolve over time and space and why?  What are the ramifications when an icon is destroyed, re-invented or appropriated across cultures, time, and place?  The topic of this year’s conference is intentionally broad as to generate a multi-vocal, multi-disciplinary, globally and historically unbounded forum for the critical examination of the roles images have played in shaping both the past and the present.

Proposals for individual papers (20 minutes maximum) should be no more than 500 words in length and may be sent by email, with a current graduate level CV to (Attn: Proposal). Those wishing to submit hard copies of the proposal and CV should forward them to: Art History (Attn: Crossing the Boundaries), Binghamton University, P.O. Box 6000, Binghamton, NY  13902-6000. We also welcome proposals for integrated panels. Panel organizers should describe the theme of the panel and send abstracts with names and affiliations of all participants along with current CVs. A panel should consist of no more than three papers, each twenty minutes in length.  Deadline for submissions is December 5th, 2011.

Next VizCult: Barbara Abou-el-Haj, Binghamton University

Saint-Denis and Reims: Orchestrating the Struggle for the Coronation Privilege
Wednesday, November 9, 5:15 p.m.
FA 218

The scale, quality and sheer extent of sculpture and glass at the Cathedral of Reims that pertains to the coronation privilege, awarded by Urban II in 1089, has prompted art historians to conclude that the clergy took the opportunity in building its 13th century cathedral to celebrate a triumph over its prestigious competitor for the privilege, the Royal Burial Abbey of Saint-Denis. I will argue that only after Reims’ clergy responded to two communal rebellions in the 1230s in the lavish glazing of the high choir, did they turn to the coronation privilege, pursued intermittently since the 9th century. A somewhat different and, I hope, more dynamic perspective can be offered: that the outcome in Reims’ favor may not have seemed as guaranteed or secure as it appears in retrospect, and that it remained open to manipulation and orchestration by abbey and cathedral, each mounting spectacular artistic programs closely calibrated with one another. The coronation imagery can be understood, then, as a determined response to Saint-Denis’ persistent representation of its own claims to crown the kings of France long after 1089, indeed, well into the 13th century.

Barbara Abou-el-Haj is Associate Professor of Art History at Binghamton University.