CFP: Ad Vivum? 21-22 Nov 2014; Proposals by 15 Aug

Friday 21 November and Saturday 22 November 2014 (please note change in date from 20-21 Nov)

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN

Call for Papers

The term ad vivum and its cognates al vivo, au vif, nach dem Leben and naer het leven have been applied since the thirteenth century to depictions designated as from, to or after (the) life. This one and a half day event will explore the issues raised by this vocabulary in relation to visual materials produced and used in Europe before 1800, including portraiture, botanical, zoological, medical and topographical images, images of novel and newly discovered phenomena, and likenesses created through direct contact with the object being depicted, such as metal casts of animals.

It is has long been recognised that the designation ad vivum was not restricted to depictions made directly after the living model, and that its function was often to advertise the claim of an image to be a faithful likeness or a bearer of reliable information. Viewed as an assertion of accuracy or truth, ad vivum raises a number of fundamental questions about early modern epistemology – questions about the value and prestige of visual and/or physical contiguity between image and original, about the kinds of information which were thought important and dependably transmissible in material form, and about the roles of the artist in this transmission. The recent interest of historians of early modern art in how value and meaning are produced and reproduced by visual materials which do not conform to the definition of art as unique invention, and of historians of science and of art in the visualisation of knowledge, has placed the questions surrounding ad vivum at the centre of their common concerns.

This event will encourage conversation and interchange between different perspectives involving a wide range of participants working in different disciplines, from postgraduate students to established academics. It seeks to encourage dialogue and debate by devoting a portion of its time to sessions comprising short, 10-minute papers, which will allow a variety of ideas and areas of expertise to be drawn into the discussion.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • The role of images, including book illustrations, described as ad vivum in early modern natural history, geography, cosmography, medicine and other investigative disciplines;
  • The meanings of ad vivum in relation to sacred images, portraiture, landscape depiction, animal imagery, and other types of subject matter involving a claim to life-likeness;
  • The connections between ad vivum and indexical images: death masks; life casts; the moulage; auto-prints made from natural phenomena;
  • The connections between concepts of ad vivum and graphic media: the print matrix; imitation and reproduction in print; drawings, diagrams which claim to be ad vivum;
  • The concept of ad vivum in cabinets of curiosities, sets and series, other groupings and collections;
  • The application of the phrase ad vivum and its cognates to specific images, and usages and discussions of the terminology in early modern texts;
  • The use of ad vivum in relation to images of the marvellous and the incredible, including monsters and other prodigies of nature.

The organisers invite proposals for:

  • 20-minute papers
  • Short, 10-minute (maximum 1,000-word) papers which will address one example or theme, or make one argument persuasively.

Revised CFP: Ad vivum?

Please send proposals of no more than 250 words by 15 August 2014 to
Professor Joanna Woodall and Dr Thomas Balfe

Organised by Professor Joanna Woodall and Dr Thomas Balfe (The Courtauld Institute of Art).

Petition to save the Warburg Institute!

The Times Higher Education recently reported that the University of London has taken legal action to challenge its own deed of trust concerning the care and integrity of the Warburg Institute.  Possible results of this action include the dispersal of the library, or its relocation abroad.

This is not the first time the Institute has been threatened: it was relocated from Hamburg to London in 1933, endangered by Hitler’s rise to power, and although the University of London accepted the collections in 1944 (the agreement currently under review), similar action was considered in 2010.

We call on the University of London to withdraw their legal action and keep the Warburg Institute just as it is, for three reasons:

1. To keep the Warburg Institute’s collections intact. In over 50 years since the library’s resettlement in London, it has grown from 80,000 to 350,000 volumes, 40% of which are unique and not held in the British Library.

2. To preserve Aby Warburg’s intellectual legacy. The Institute’s collections are organised unlike any other in the world – according to a system  developed by Warburg as a product of his own research. Dispersal is tantamount to destroying one of Warburg’s greatest works of scholarship – the library itself.

3. To maintain the vibrant intellectual community the Warburg fosters. A one-of-a-kind collection both in content and form, the Warburg has drawn together a world-class scholarly community for decades. Taking the collections outside of the space of the Institute would displace that community of researchers.

Sign the petition here:

Chevalier d’Eon Lecture, 3 July 18.30

The cartoonist Adrian Teal will be speaking about 18th-C London, its culture of celebrity, and the effects of newspapers and printed materials on perceptions of people and events.  The lecture will include the notorious Chevalier d’Eon, the French spy who lived in London and claimed to be a woman.

The lecture will be at St Pancras Old Church, Pancras Road, London, NW1 1UL.  £10, all proceeds to the church.

More details here:

Radio 4′s In Our Time on Robert Boyle, 12 June at 09.00, with Birkbeck’s Prof. Michael Hunter

On Thursday 12 June at 09.00 Radio 4′s In Our Time will be devoted to Robert Boyle.  The panel will include Birkbeck’s Prof. Michael Hunter, author of the award biography Boyle: Between God and Science (2009).

More details here:

Barry Coward Memorial Lecture 2014

Ann Hughes, ‘Going to Sermons in Revolutionary England’
Friday 13 June 2014

We are delighted to welcome Ann Hughes, Professor of Early Modern History, Keele University who will present the 2014 Barry Coward Memorial Lecture.

Professor Hughes will be speaking on ‘Going to Sermons in Revolutionary England’.

Professor Hughes is a historian of early modern England with particular interests in the culture, religion and politics of the English civil war – or English Revolution.  In recent years her interests have included religious debate and polemic, print culture, gender and radicalism. In 2011, she completed a book, Gender and Politics in the English Revolution.  She is now principally working on preaching during the revolution.

The event will take place in the Birkbeck Building, Malet Street room 414 at 6.30pm and will be followed by our sumptuous end of year party.

The event is free to members and £4 to non-members.
We look forward to seeing you there.

Birkbeck Early Modern Society