Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Identifying Creative Impulses in Early Medieval Art and Culture

Special Sessions organized by Eric Ramírez-Weaver ( and Lynley Anne Herbert (

I. Creative Modes of Activating the Early Medieval Manuscript
The way a manuscript behaves when used “in the flesh,” so to speak, can at times reveal layers of creativity built into them, which must be actively experienced rather than passively seen. Often as modern scholars we work from digitized images of individual folios, or at best openings, and “page flipping” technologies (such as the Walters’s “Ex Libris” platform or the British Library’s “Turning the Pages” program) provide a false sense that we are experiencing the physical book. Evidence of the performative qualities of a manuscript can at times be rediscovered, not just in the sense of how a reader might perform the text written in the book, but how the user activated the book as an object during use.  Does an image show through a page and become part of the visual experience on the other side, and was there intentionality there? Do images interact across an opening? Does imagery function together from recto to verso? How is the artist creating an experience for the user, or conversely, how did the user alter the book to create a personal experience? This session seeks papers that explore creative approaches that open up new possibilities regarding how early medieval manuscripts functioned as objects.

II. Creative Strategies of Intellectual Engagement with Tradition and the Auctores
Recent scholarship (consider Benjamin Anderson, Lynda Coon, Paul Edward Dutton, Rosamond McKitterick, Lawrence Nees, Eric Ramírez-Weaver, and Immo Warntjes), has increasingly emphasized the creative strategies for intervention and manufacture of meaning that were acutely linked to early medieval eastern and western engagements with various aspects of the liberal art traditions. From star pictures to poetic acrostics, devotion to erudition and pious personal reform transformed the possibilities for innovation that proliferated during the Carolingian period. Interlocking networks of artists, chroniclers, historians, and poets communicated their translations, textual redactions, and visual records of classical tradition and contemporary study with one another, engaged in debate or collaboration, but advancing science. This session seeks papers willing to reconsider methodologically apposite ways to reinterpret the various brands of early medieval creativity manifest in texts pertaining (as broadly as possible) to the seven liberal arts, including texts of astronomical, computistical, rhetorical, geometric, arithmetic, musical, lyrical, philosophical, diagrammatic, or historical significance.
Eric M. Ramírez-Weaver, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Director of the Undergraduate Program (Office Hours: Fridays, 9am-1pm)
University of Virginia
McIntire Department of Art
Carl H. and Martha S. Lindner Center for Art History
303 Fayerweather Hall
P.O. BOX 400130
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4130
[T] 434-924-7710
[F] 434-924-3647
[C] 434-227-2910

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