Appel à communication : « The Senses and Visual Culture from Antiquity to the Renaissance » (Bristol, 8-9 juin 2015)

Hans Memling, Retable de Maarten Nieuwenhove (détail), 1487Where does the recent sensory turn in the Arts and Humanities leave the study of Visual Culture? Can the viewer/object model incorporate the full sensorium without imposing ocularcentrism? How has vision’s relation to the other senses been expressed and explored through the visual arts from Antiquity to the Early Modern Period? How have the senses and sensory experience been represented in art before the Modern era?

This conference will explore the complex relationship between the visual and the sensory in contemporary theory and ancient practice. It will investigate the ways that art, from icons to illuminated manuscripts, music to architecture, and poetry to theatre, acted as a space for thinking about sensory experience, and for representing sensory ideas and theories. It will bring together scholars from a range of fields, including Classics and Ancient History, Medieval and Byzantine Studies, Musicology, Museum Studies and the History of Art, to explore these questions in the context of different historical periods and cultures, and in terms of politics, religion, philosophy, and society in the pre-Modern era.

We invite abstracts of 300 words for papers including but not limited to the following themes:

  • The role of the visual
  • The non-visual senses and the reception of visual culture
  • Embodied interaction with apparently visual art
  • The use of ancient sensory theory in later practice
  • Representations of sensory experience
  • The difference between Eastern and Western European traditions in terms of ideas about the senses and how they are represented
  • Displaying historical sensory experiences in museum settings
  • The future of visual culture studies of pre-modern Europe

Papers will be 20 minutes long, with 10 minutes for discussion. The conference will be held 8th-9th June 2015 at the University of Bristol, UK. Please send abstracts and CVs to the organisers, Erica O’Brien and Heather Hunter-Crawley at , by 10 April 2015.

For further information and updates, please see the conference website:


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