International Conference Visualizing the Other in the Late Medieval and Early Modern Art (1300–1550)

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14 – 16 November 2019

Call for Papers

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The deadline for submission is 20 July 2019.

The University of Ostrava and the Vivarium – Centre for Research of the Medieval Society and Culture invites art historians, historians, philosophers and cultural anthropologists to participate in the international conference Visualizing the Other in the Late Medieval and Early Modern Art (1300–1550). As Medieval Europe was ethnically and religiously diverse, we seek papers exploring the artistic, architectural, and linguistic evidence for the social, cultural, and political integration of ethnically and religiously diverse communities.

The aim of the meeting is to stimulate an academic dialogue on the perception and expression of otherness / other in the late Middle Ages and Early Modern Europe, considering its social, religious and ethnic diversity, interactions, coexistence, but also delimitation as means of self-definition and -protection.

Nevertheless, the late medieval visualization of the other works with usual stereotypes and cultural images when “the other” is understood as potentially dangerous, transgressing norms and order, and thus negative. Yet, the dialogue between them, and us between inclusion and exclusion reveals important relations in the structure of late medieval society.

The perception of the other in medieval art, mentality and culture needs to be discussed and treated as a dynamic intellectual and socio-cultural process (“the process of othering”) in a multi-disciplinary format ranging from texts and image-text schemes to images and fine arts. The following questions can be discussed:
On which occasion was “the other” presented as a positive enrichment, was diversity understood as God’s inscrutable, but no doubt wise creation? On which occasion was it understood as potentially dangerous, transgressing norms and order, and thus as negative power? How the late medieval visualization of “the other” worked? How the stereotypes of the good as beauty vs. evil as ugly monstrosity and deformity, e.g. depictions of members of “other” religious communities (Roman Catholic Christians vs. reformers, Jews, Muslims), women, and people “on the edge” has been produced and used?

Key topics might include:

  • Visualizing the religious otherness (visual and textual sources)
  • Ethnic, regional and racial diversity and its reception in visual culture
  • Gender and sexuality as distancing strategies
  • Monstrosity and deformity as a visual expression of otherness
  • Evidence of social transgressions, breaking norms and rules
  • Medieval theory of perception of the other
  • Otherness in profane visual culture and marginal iconography
  • Animals used as exempla for sin, transgression and malevolent behaviour
  • Exotic, oriental, and other distant places as a source of otherness
  • The other understanding of the world: natural sciences and metaphysics
  • The other in Latin world as participants of prosperity
  • Conversion and consequences in the science and culture of Central European Christians

The conference will take place from the 14th to 16th November 2019 at Ostrava University, Czech Republic.

We welcome submissions for 20-minute oral presentations. Please, send your proposed title and an abstract of 300 words of maximum length with your name, contact and institution details to Daniela Rywiková () by 20th July 2019.

Prof. Waldemar Deluga(University of Ostrava)
Dr Jan Dienstbier(Czech Academy of Science)
Dr Teresa Pac(University of Central Oklahoma)
Dr Daniela Rywiková(University of Ostrava)
Dr Maria Theisen(Austrian Academy of Science)

Updated: 04. 04. 2019