Call for Papers | Sound, Image, Text

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on June 2, 2023

François Denis Née, after Joseph Barthélemy Le Bouteux, Le Concert (detail) in Jean Benjamin de Laborde, Choix de Chansons, 4 vols. (Paris: De Lormel, 1773). Binding with the arms of Marie-Antoinette (Paris: Bibliothèque nationale de France, Cotes RES-YE-778, Cotes RES-YE-779, Cotes RES-YE-780, Cotes RES-YE-781). The Bibliothèque Condé at the Château de Chantilly possesses a unique example printed on vellum bound with the original designs for the engravings; more information is available here.

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From the Call for Papers:

Sound, Image, Text
Australian National University, Canberra, 24–25 August 2023

Proposals due by 23 June 2023

This symposium hosted by the Centre for Art History and Theory in the ANU School of Art and Design will be of interest to scholars, curators, or creative practitioners interested in the relationship between sound, image, and text in the history of music, art, and literature. The event is inspired by the digital critical edition of Jean-Benjamin de Laborde’s Choix de Chansons (1773), developed by an interdisciplinary team of art historians, musicologists, and literary scholars from the Australian National University, University of Sydney, University of Oxford, and the Sorbonne. The project explores the interrelation and interactivity of images, music, and text in the Choix de Chansons and similar cultural objects in the eighteenth century.

François Denis Née, after Joseph Barthélemy Le Bouteux, Le Concert in Jean Benjamin de Laborde, Choix de Chansons, 1773 (Paris: Bibliothèque nationale de France, Cotes RES-YE-778, Cotes RES-YE-779, Cotes RES-YE-780, Cotes RES-YE-781). The inscription below the image reads “Vos yeux commencent nos tourmens, / Et vos doigts charmans / Achévent leur ouvrage” (Your eyes commence our torments / And your charming fingers / Accomplish their work). More information is available here.

We seek papers and interventions from artists, curators, publishers, and academics that include, but are not limited to, the following themes:
• Digital publication
• Multimedia research
• Interrelations of sound, image, and text.
• Digital methods for art history/musicology/literary studies
• Digital methods for researching the eighteenth century
• Book history (especially relating to music)
• History of image and text in performance
• Print culture and music

We strongly encourage participation from scholars, visual artists, and musicians who seek to develop, remake, rework, or remix the sound, image, and text of the digital critical edition of Choix de Chansons.

The symposium runs in conjunction with the Choix de Chansons exhibition at the School of Art and Design Gallery, which opens on Thursday, 24 August, and a concert of selected music from the Choix de Chansons held at the School of Music on Friday, 25 August. Modest bursaries to contribute towards travel and accommodation will be provided to international and interstate delegates. Please direct enquiries and paper submissions to Robert Wellington, Director, Centre for Art History and Art Theory, ANU at robert.wellington@anu.edu.au.

Conference | Ephemerality and Materiality in France

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on May 31, 2023

From the conference programme:

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow? Ephemerality and Materiality in France in the Long 18th Century: Arts, Theatre, and Spectacle
Università Ca’ Foscari, Venice, 27–28 June 2023

Organized by Elisa Cazzato

The Greek etymology of ephemeral, ephḗmeros, denotates something that only lasts for one day. In many ways, the ephemeral has become a key subject for our 21st-century lives, via temporary architecture and installations, digital art, but also new forms of media and social communication. However, with the invention of photography and videorecording in the late 19th century, and with new digital technologies in contemporary times, the ephemeral has also found new ways to become enduring, sustainable, and collectable in new archival forms. Yet ephemeral art and ways of being that existed before are more difficult to trace.

The study of 18th-century artistic and performance culture has naturally focused mostly on material objects that have survived in physical or representational forms, like paintings, decorative arts, written texts, and musical scores. But what happens to those forms of art whose material nature is short-lived, fleeting, or perishable? Does the absence of a surviving object preclude the possibility of its examination?

This conference investigates the topic of ephemerality in French culture in the long 18th-century, embracing both artistic, theatrical, and performance practices created through fragile and temporal media like theatre settings, sketches, fireworks, or spectacles that were performed but never replicated or transcribed, as well as trends in modes of dress, walking, and ways of being. In order to exist, however, ephemerality needs materiality, since any creative process intersects with the material requirements that both artworks and performances need: materials, location, scripts, costumes, instruments. How do ephemerality and materiality connect within the cultural context of 18th-century France?

This conference seeks to foster a debate not only about the aesthetic significance of ephemerality but also about the political and cultural meanings of the ephemeral. It questions whether, and how, short-lived forms of art had a role in communicating ideas of power. The conversation also embraces the politics of absence: What is the long-term effect of ephemerality? How can we create a history of the ephemeral? How do we deal with the relative paucity of sources? And how might our failure to deal with ephemerality exclude certain groups or cultures.

With the support of the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles

Zoom link:

Elisa Cazzato, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow, Department of Linguistics and Comparative Cultural Studies, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice


Scientific Committee
Renaud Bret-Vitoz (Sorbonne Université)
Elisa Cazzato (Università Ca’ Foscari)
Emanuele De Luca (Université Côte d’Azur)
Meredith Martin (NYU)
Barbara Nestola (CMBV)
Gerardo Tocchini (Università Ca’ Foscari)

T U E S D A Y ,  2 7  J U N E  2 0 2 3

10.00  Welcome

10.15  Greetings and Conference Introduction
• Elisa Cazzato (Università Ca’ Foscari), Nicoletta Bortoluzzi (Università Ca’ Foscari – research advisor), and Barbara Nestola (CMBV)

10.30  Session 1 | Ephemerality in French Theater
Chair: Paola Perazzolo (Università degli Studi di Verona)
• Renaud Bret-Vitoz (Sorbonne Université), L’expérience éphémère d’Ériphyle (Voltaire, 1732) à la scène: matériaux tangibles d’une dramaturgie avant reprises et réécritures
• Pierre Frantz (Sorbonne Université), L’éphémère et la circonstance, réflexion sur le théâtre de la Révolution française
• Ilaria Lepore (Università degli Studi La Sapienza), L’art du comédien au tournant des Lumières. Souci d’éphémère et sensibilité mémorielle

12.00  Session 2 | Architectures and Urban Settings
Chair and discussant: Emanuele De Luca (Univeristé Côte D’Azur)
• Alessandra Mignatti (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano), Tra utopia e ricerca del consenso: gli apparati effimeri di epoca napoleonica a Milano
• Annamaria Testaverde (Università degli Studi di Bergamo), Una via triumphalis per «Florence la belle ville»: dall’apparato effimero al progetto stabile, 1608–1810

13.00  Lunch Break

15.00  Session 3 | Ephemerality in Dance
Chair and discussant: Stefania Onesti (Università degli Studi di Padova/Università Aldo Moro Bari)
• Olivia Sabee, (Swarthmore College), Noverre on 18th-Century Dance Theory and Ephemerality
• Cornelis Vanistendal (Independent Scholar), Ephemerality on the Fringe: Power Quadrilles in Brussels on the Eve of Waterloo

16.00  Session 4 | Researching Ephemerality in Arts and Costumes
Chair: Carlotta Sorba (Università degli Studi di Padova)
• Daniella Berman (New York University), “…even in the midst of the terrible movements and variables of the Revolution”: Jacques-Louis David’s Joseph Bara and the Unrealized Fête of the 10th of Thermidor
• Brontë Hebdon (New York University), ‘The Right to Dress Plainly’: Embroidery and the Ephemeral in Napoleonic Court Costumes
• Petra Dotlačilová (Stockholm University / CMBV), Witnesses of the Past: Studying Costumes as Material Evidence of the Ephemeral Performance

W E D N E S D A Y ,  2 8  J U N E  2 0 2 3

9.30  Session 5 | Reconstructing Feasts, Settings, and Special Effects
Chair: Barbara Nestola (CMBV)
• Christine Jeanneret (University of Copenhagen), Ephemeral Spaces, Ephemeral Costumes, and Ephemeral Arts: The Bal des Ifs at Versailles in 1745
• Gerardo Tocchini (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), Lorsqu’une scénographie devient ‘la’ preuve: « Orfeo ed Euridice » de Ch. W. Gluck, opéra maçonnique
• Emanuele De Luca (Univeristé Côte d’Azur), Poudres, feux, couleurs: les artifices des Ruggieri à Paris au XVIII siècle

11.00  Session 6 | The Specter of Race
Chair and discussant: Michele Matteini (New York University)
• Noémie Etienne (University of Vienna) and Meredith Martin (New York University), The Comte d’Artois and the Spectacle of Otherness in Pre-Revolutionary Paris

12.00  Keynote Lecture
• Mark Ledbury (University of Sydney), “Et le lendemain matin… Afterlives of the Ephemeral”

Call for Essays | Material Metamorphosis

Posted in books, Calls for Papers by Editor on May 30, 2023

From the Call for Essays for a project with Brepols:

Material Metamorphosis: Natural Resources, Artmaking, and Sustainability in the Early Modern World
Volume edited by Louise Arizzoli and Susanna Caviglia

Proposals due by 15 July 2023, with final papers due 15 May 2024

Between the sixteenth and the early nineteenth century, raw materials circulated globally to be traded, studied, and transformed into luxury goods for the consumption of Europeans, whose mishandling of the colonies’ natural resources turned some of the potentially wealthiest countries into the poorest ones. This volume proposes to investigate craftsmanship and artmaking against the backdrop of colonial trade and in relation to current issues such as environmental, social, cultural, and economic sustainability. The focus will be on natural resources, in particular their materiality, extraction, migration, and transformation through labor and manufacturing processes as well as on the effects of their cultivation and the exploitation of territories.

Global trade routes interconnecting distant parts of the world existed since Antiquity. The famous Silk Road allowed to bring silk and spices from China to Rome in exchange of wool, gold, or silver; the Incense Route facilitated the transport of frankincense and myrrh from Southern Arabia to the Mediterranean; and the Amber Road permitted to carry the precious homonymous stone from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean. These well-established complex networks of commercial trade boosted economies but were also vital means of intercultural exchanges. Global trade soared in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, with the lead of the Portuguese and the Spanish who opened new maritime routes, followed in the seventeenth century by the Dutch, the English, and the French. Renewed commercial relationships with India, China, Japan, and the Americas were the occasion for the Europeans to establish a stronghold on local economies and make profit on the trade of local products; the infamous triangular trade between Europe, Africa, and the Americas from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century represents one of the apexes of these exploitative systems.

These systems and their long-lasting impact on people, labor, production, and the landscape have gathered renewed scholarly interest. Here, we aim to investigate the effects of global trade routes on the exploitation of natural resources as related to artistic production, since raw materials were imported to Europe from abroad to produce goods of all kinds. The aim is to approach these objects not as finished products but as the final results of a long production process anchored in the exploitation of natural resources that contributed to the increasing environment’s degradation and led to question the relationship between the human being and nature.

We seek papers dealing with materials that travelled from Asia, the Americas, and Africa to Europe (such as sugar, coffee, tobacco, wood, cotton, indigo as well as gold, iron, and ivory). Papers could interrogate the fate of such natural resources and ask, in particular, how they were received, transformed, represented, collected, displayed, or consumed. In general, we welcome research that deconstructs the artwork and looks at the material itself, its origin, exploitation, metamorphosis, reuse, preservation, and consumption through the lenses of global exchange and development related to the modern concept of sustainability, the prodromes of which appear in the seventeenth century. This period coincides indeed with the occurrence of the first ecological damages (deforestation, soil erosion, silted rivers, drought, etc.) which can be directly related to the new commercial strategies.

The volume will be articulated around three areas of the world where Europe founded colonies and exploited natural resources. For example:
• Asia: silk, cotton, spices, precious stones, tea, cotton
• Africa: ivory, wood, iron, horn, gold, cloth
• The Americas: silver, gold, pigments, sugar, tobacco, coffee, cotton

This inquiry welcomes a variety of media, including but not limited to: the decorative arts, ephemeral arts (theatre, exhibitions, masquerades), visual arts, textiles, cabinets of curiosities, and jewelry. Please send proposals to Louise Arizzoli (larizzol@olemiss.edu) and Susanna Caviglia (susanna.caviglia@duke.edu). Include in your proposal: name and affiliation, paper title (maximum of 15 words), abstract (maximum of 200 words), and a brief CV (maximum of 300 words, in ordinary CV format) by 15 July 2023.

Submission Timeline
• 15 July 2023 — submit your abstract
• 1 September 2013 — notification of acceptance
• 15 May 2024 — submission of your contribution (information on publication format and guidelines available upon acceptance)

Call for Papers | Women, Opera, and the Public Stage in 18th-C. Venice

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on May 30, 2023

From the Call for Papers:

Women, Opera, and the Public Stage in Eighteenth-Century Venice
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, 11–13 April 2024

Proposals due by 15 August 2023

This conference is organised within the framework of the 5-year research project Women, Opera, and the Public Stage in Eighteenth-Century Venice (WoVen), funded by the Norwegian Research Council and based at the Music Institute, NTNU. The project explores the role of women in European operatic culture during the Enlightenment. More specifically, WoVen focuses on Venice, a hub for critical debate and a prominent operatic centre of international significance in the eighteenth century. WoVen seeks to uncover how opera and operatic women contributed to the ‘women question’ through their multiple activities within and around the opera world in Venice at a time of profound change for women throughout Europe. We invite contributions for 20-minute papers (or 30-minute papers with performance/demonstration) within these four thematic areas:
1  Women’s Roles and Images of Femininity on the Venetian Stage
2  Performing Celebrity on the Venetian Stage
3  Audiences, Patrons and Women’s Participation in the Opera Business in Venice
4  Performing Eighteenth-Century Operatic Women and Gender: A Practice-Based Approach

Proposals for unpublished individual papers must be submitted as Word files with the following information: presenter’s name, paper title, session for which the paper is being proposed, abstract (maximum of 300 words), short biography (maximum of 150 words), institutional affiliation, and email address. The official language of the conference is English. Proposals must be sent to woven@musikk.ntnu.no by 15 August 2023 to be evaluated by 15 September 2023. Please indicate the subject of your email as: ‘WoVen—Call for Papers’. The scientific committee will select the best papers presented at the conference for peer-reviewed publication.

Accommodation for three nights is covered by WoVen. WoVen will also cover or contribute towards travel expenses for participants without or with only limited institutional support. For more information about the potential for travel support, please see the full Call for Papers.

Scientific Committee
Melania Bucciarelli (NTNU)
Tatiana Korneeva (NTNU)
Francesca Menchelli-Buttini (Conservatorio di Musica ‘G. Rossini’, Pesaro)

New Book | Venice and the Doges

Posted in books by Editor on May 29, 2023

From Rizzoli:

Toto Bergamo Rossi, with photographs by Matteo de Fina, an introduction by Count Marino Zorzi, and contributions by Diane von Furstenberg and Peter Marino, Venice and the Doges: Six Hundred Years of Architecture, Monuments, and Sculpture (New York: Rizzoli Electa, 2023), 364 pages, ISBN: 978-0847899296, $135.

While Venice is better known for soft light and atmospheric painters, this elegant new volume transforms our understanding of Venetian sculpture and its place in the city’s artistic tradition. A feast for the eyes and an entertaining, erudite read, this book opens with an illustrated survey of the 120 doges who led the Venetian Republic before continuing with a detailed survey of the incredible array of sculptures and monuments that memorialize them. Although celebrated for painting and music, Venice has a sculptural tradition that was overshadowed by Florence and Rome. Based on new scholarship, this volume reveals the true magnificence of six centuries of Venetian sculpture. With the oldest works dating to the thirteenth century, these masterpieces fill the city’s churches and include pieces by great masters from the Lombardo family to Antonio Rizzo, Jacopo Sansovino, Alessandro Vittoria, and Baldassare Longhena. The sculptural marvels of Venice tell the story of a procession of doges—politicians, scholars, conquerors, merchants, and even a saint, Pietro Orseolo—over a thousand-year history. Engaging text highlights the adventurous, eventful, and sometimes glorious lives of these legendary figures, while the newly commissioned photography showcases the grandeur and beauty of a neglected aspect of Venice’s cultural history.

Francesco ‘Toto’ Bergamo Rossi has been the head of the Venetian Heritage Foundation since 2010. Matteo de Fina specializes in photographing art, interiors, and architecture. Count Marino Zorzi, former director of the Biblioteca Marciana, comes from one of the oldest Venetian families with a doge in their lineage. Diane von Furstenberg is a noted philanthropist and celebrated fashion designer, best known for the wrap dress, as well as founding her eponymous global luxury lifestyle brand. She is International Ambassador for the Venetian Heritage Foundation. Peter Marino, FAIA, is the principal of Peter Marino Architect PLLC, the New York–based architecture firm he founded in 1978. Known for his residential and retail work for the most iconic names in fashion and art, he is also Chairman of the Venetian Heritage Foundation and serves on the board of directors for International Committee of L’Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs.


New Book | Tiepolo und das Kostüm

Posted in books by Editor on May 29, 2023

Franziska Kleine’s review of the book (in German) appeared at ArtHist.net earlier this month (16 May 2023). From Gebr. Mann Verlag:

Torsten Korte, Tiepolo und das Kostüm: Konstruktion von Geschichte im Historienbild (Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, 2023), 332 pages, ISBN: 978-3786128922, €79.

book coverLuxuriöse, fantasievolle Gewänder in Tiepolos Bildwelten des Rokoko

Giambattista Tiepolos Malerei ist reich an prächtigen, fantasievollen Gewändern, die zum besonderen Reiz seiner Bildwelten beitragen. In den historisierenden und orientalisierenden Gewändern drückt sich ein Blick des 18. Jahrhunderts auf Geschichte und kulturelle Identitäten aus, dem das Buch durch bildtheoretische Reflexionen nachgeht.

Die Anziehungskraft der Malerei von Giambattista Tiepolo (1696–1770) beruht besonders auf der Darstellung von Kostümen. Die Helden und Heldinnen seiner Historienbilder sind in aufwendige, luxuriöse und fantasievolle Gewänder gekleidet. Dabei handelt sich keineswegs um dekoratives Beiwerk—vielmehr setzt Tiepolo historische und orientalisierende Kleider kenntnisreich ein und visualisiert dadurch komplexe Geschichtskonzepte. Anhand ausgewählter Hauptwerke des Künstlers wirft Torsten Korte einen neuen Blick auf diesen bisher kaum beachteten Aspekt. Seine theoretische Reflexion zur Gattung des Historienbildes reicht dabei über das 18. Jahrhundert hinaus.

Torsten Korte, Studium der Kunstgeschichte, Philosophie und Musikwissenschaft in Bonn und Venedig, Promotion an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Seit 2021 wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter an der Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz.

Call for Articles | Thresholds 52: Disappearance

Posted in Calls for Papers, journal articles by Editor on May 28, 2023

From the Call for Papers via e-flux:

Thresholds 52: Disappearance, Spring 2024
Edited by Samuel Dubois and Susan Williams

Submissions of about 3000 words due by 15 June 2023 (extended from 1 June 2023)

​​Thresholds, the annual peer-reviewed journal produced by the MIT Department of Architecture and published by MIT Press, is now accepting submissions to be published Spring 2024.

Some disappearances are pointedly more conspicuous than others. In 1983, magician David Copperfield ominously dropped a curtain revealing an empty black sky, having just made the Statue of Liberty vanish from sight. As Lady Liberty’s disappearance was watched with amazement by television viewers, Copperfield cautioned his audience: “Sometimes we don’t realize how important something is until it is gone.” Constructing illusions, playing tricks, and deceiving audiences, magicians challenge what is real, imagined, or just an illusion of the eye. But even a playful disappearance in a magic trick can reveal deeper implications.

Thresholds 52: Disappearance will explore the ways art and architecture negotiate the elusive topic of disappearance. We seek contributions that aim to discover how disappearances are spatially manifested (material/symbolic, living/non-living, human/non-human) and how the appearances of certain things have led to the disappearances of others. Submissions can address any time period or geographic setting. We are interested in scholarly articles and other artistic and intellectual contributions that engage the notion of disappearance by clarify, complicate, and challenge our collective understandings of architecture, art history, and other related disciplines and practices.

Disappearance is an ambiguous term—an occurrence, a process, or an outcome. While a disappearance can stay within the binary state of visibility to invisibility, it can also make something become less common through a slow process towards non-existence. If disappearance itself is a fascinating subject, what enables something to survive after its raison d’être disappears may be just as intriguing. Scientific determinism tells us that, materially speaking, nothing actually disappears. The law of mass conservation establishes that while matter can neither be created nor destroyed, it can be rearranged in space. But this scientific truth becomes convoluted when the lived spatial and visual experiences of humans are accounted for. How can these two opposing views exist—or not exist—within the same world?

Disappearances can be manifested in various ways, scales, and contexts:
• stolen art and historical artifacts
• start and end of various artistic movements or media
• visualization and spatial design as strategies of tracking disappearance
untraceable actions of internet culture
• phantasmagoric vanishing experiences in haunted spaces
• dematerialization of analog skills in architectural design and practice
• concealed or implied structural systems over real structures
• construction sites intrinsically being replaced with actual buildings
• disappearance of materials and techniques when better ones emerge
• sinking of coastal cities
• evaporating biodiversity
• or just anything or anyone hidden in plain sight

Please send your submission to thresh@mit.edu. Written submissions should be in English, approximately 3000 words in length, and formatted in accordance with the current Chicago Manual of Style. All submissions should include a cover letter (maximum of 200 words) as well as a biography (maximum of 50 words) and contact information for each author. Text submissions should be sent as .doc files. Where applicable, images should be submitted at 72 dpi as uncompressed .tif files. All scholarly submissions are subject to a double-blind peer review. Other creative proposals are not limited in size, medium, or format.

New Books | Recent Historical Fiction

Posted in books by Editor on May 27, 2023

From Penguin Random House:

Celia Bell, The Disenchantment: A Novel (New York: Pantheon, 2023), 368 pages, ISBN: ‎978-0593317174, $28.

Book coverIn 17th-century Paris, everyone has something to hide. The noblemen and women and writers consort with fortune tellers in the confines of their homes, servants practice witchcraft and black magic, and the titled poison family members to obtain inheritance. But for the Baroness Marie Catherine, the only thing she wishes to hide is how unhappy she is in her marriage, and the pleasures she seeks outside of it. When her husband is present, the Baroness spends her days tending to her children and telling them elaborate fairy tales, but when he’s gone, Marie Catherine indulges in a more liberated existence, one of forward-thinking discussions with female scholars in the salons of grand houses, and at the center of her freedom: Victoire Rose de Bourbon, Mademoiselle de Conti, the androgynous, self-assured countess who steals Marie Catherine’s heart and becomes her lover. Victoire possesses everything Marie Catherine does not—confidence in her love, and a brazen fearlessness in all that she’s willing to do for it. But when a shocking and unexpected murder occurs, Marie Catherine must escape. And what she discovers is the dark underbelly of a city full of people who have secrets they would kill to keep. The Disenchantment is a stunning debut that conjures an unexpected world of passion, crime, intrigue, and black magic.

Celia Bell has written short fiction for VQR, The White Review, The Sewanee Review, The Southern Review, and Bomb Magazine. She is the winner of the 2018 VQR Emily Clark Balch Prize for Fiction and holds an MFA from the New Writers Project at the University of Texas. She lives in Austin, Texas.

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From Macmillan (in September):

David Diop, translated from the French by Sam Taylor, Beyond the Door of No Return: A Novel (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2023), ISBN: 978-0374606770, $27.

book coverThe highly anticipated new novel by David Diop, winner of the International Booker Prize.

Paris, 1806. The renowned botanist Michel Adanson lies on his deathbed, the masterwork to which he dedicated his life still incomplete. As he expires, the last word to escape his lips is a woman’s name: Maram. The key to this mysterious woman’s identity is Adanson’s unpublished memoir of the years he spent in Senegal, concealed in a secret compartment in a chest of drawers. Therein lies a story as fantastical as it is tragic: Maram, it turns out, is none other than the fabled revenant. A young woman of noble birth from the kingdom of Waalo, Maram was sold into slavery but managed to escape from the Island of Gorée—a major embarkation point of the transatlantic slave trade—to a small village hidden in the forest. While on a research expedition in West Africa as a young man, Adanson hears the story of the revenant and becomes obsessed with finding her. Accompanied by his guide, he ventures deep into the Senegalese bush on a journey that reveals not only the savagery of the French colonial occupation but also the unlikely transports of the human heart. Written with sensitivity and narrative flair, David Diop’s Beyond the Door of No Return is a love story like few others. Drawing on the richness and lyricism of Senegal’s oral traditions, Diop has constructed a historical epic of the highest order.

David Diop was born in Paris and was raised in Senegal. He is the head of the Arts, Languages, and Literature Department at the University of Pau, where his research includes such topics as eighteenth-century French literature and European representations of Africa in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His second novel, At Night All Blood Is Black, was awarded the International Booker Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for fiction.
Sam Taylor has written for The Guardian, Financial Times, Vogue, and Esquire; he has translated such works as the award-winning HHhH by Laurent Binet and the internationally-bestselling The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker.

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From Penguin Random House:

Tania James, Loot (New York: Knopf, 2023), 304 pages, ISBN: 978-0593535974, $28.

book coverAbbas is just seventeen years old when his gifts as a woodcarver come to the attention of Tipu Sultan, and he is drawn into service at the palace in order to build a giant tiger automaton for Tipu’s sons, a gift to commemorate their return from British captivity. His fate—and the fate of the wooden tiger he helps create—will mirror the vicissitudes of nations and dynasties ravaged by war across India and Europe. Working alongside the legendary French clockmaker Lucien du Leze, Abbas hones his craft, learns French, and meets Jehanne, the daughter of a French expatriate. When Du Leze is finally permitted to return home to Rouen, he invites Abbas to come along as his apprentice. But by the time Abbas travels to Europe, Tipu’s palace has been looted by British forces, and the tiger automaton has disappeared. To prove himself, Abbas must retrieve the tiger from an estate in the English countryside, where it is displayed in a collection of plundered art.

Tania James is the author of three works of fiction, most recently the novel The Tusk That Did the Damage (Knopf), which was named a Best Book of 2015 by The San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian, and NPR, and shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize and the Financial Times Oppenheimer Award. Her short stories have appeared in One Story, The New Yorker, Granta, Freeman’s Anthology, Oxford American, and other venues. James is an associate professor of creative writing at George Mason University and lives in Washington, DC.

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From Simon & Schuster:

Neil Jordan, The Ballad of Lord Edward and Citizen Small: A Novel (Pegasus Books, 2023) 352 pages, ISBN: ‎978-1639364534, $27.

From Academy Award-winning film director Neil Jordan comes an artful reimagining of an extraordinary friendship spanning the revolutionary tumult of the eighteenth century.

South Carolina, 1781: the American Revolution. An enslaved man escaping to his freedom saves the life of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, a British army officer and the younger son of one of Ireland’s grandest families. The tale that unfolds is narrated by Tony Small, the formerly enslaved man who becomes Fitzgerald’s companion—and best friend. While details of Lord Edward’s life are well documented, little is known of Tony Small, who is at the heart of this moving novel. In this gripping narrative, his character considers the ironies of empire, captivity, and freedom, mapping Lord Edward’s journey from being a loyal subject of the British Empire to becoming a leader of the disastrous Irish rebellion of 1798. This powerful new work of fiction brings Neil Jordan’s inimitable storytelling ability to the revolutions that shaped the eighteenth century—in America, France, and, finally, in Ireland.

Neil Jordan is an award-winning Irish film director, screenwriter, and novelist. His first book, Night in Tunisia, won the Somerset Maugham Award and the Guardian Fiction Prize. He is the winner of an Academy Award, the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Irish PEN Award, a BAFTA, and the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award. Jordan’s films include Interview with the Vampire, Angel, The Crying Game, Michael Collins, The End of the Affair, and The Butcher Boy. He lives in Dublin.

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From Penguin Random House:

Stephanie Marie Thornton, Her Lost Words: A Novel of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley (New York: Berkley Press, 2023), 448 pages, ISBN: ‎978-0593198421, $17.

1792. As a child, Mary Wollstonecraft longed to disappear during her father’s violent rages. Instead, she transforms herself into the radical author of the landmark volume A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, in which she dares to propose that women are equal to men. From conservative England to the blood-drenched streets of revolutionary France, Mary refuses to bow to society’s conventions and instead supports herself with her pen until an illicit love affair challenges her every belief about romance and marriage. When she gives birth to a daughter and is stricken with childbed fever, Mary fears it will be her many critics who recount her life’s extraordinary odyssey…

1818. The daughter of infamous political philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft, passionate Mary Shelley learned to read by tracing the letters of her mother’s tombstone. As a young woman, she desperately misses her mother’s guidance, especially following her scandalous elopement with dashing poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Mary struggles to balance an ever-complicated marriage with motherhood while nursing twin hopes that she might write something of her own one day and also discover the truth of her mother’s unconventional life. Mary’s journey will unlock her mother’s secrets, all while leading to her own destiny as the groundbreaking author of Frankenstein.

A riveting and inspiring novel about a firebrand feminist, her visionary daughter, and the many ways their words transformed our world.

Stephanie Marie Thornton is a high school history teacher and lives in Alaska with her husband and daughter.

Call for Papers | HECAA Open Session at UAAC 2023, Banff

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on May 27, 2023

Apologies for the short notice, but this open session at October’s UAAC/AAUC Conference is still accepting proposals (until Wednesday). CH

Open Session Sponsored by the Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art and Architecture
Universities Art Association of Canada / l’association d’art des universités du Canada
Banff, 19–21 October 2023
Chaired by Kathryn Desplanque (UNC Chapel Hill)

Proposals due by 31 May 2023

HECAA works to stimulate, foster, and disseminate knowledge of all aspects of eighteenth-century visual culture. This open session welcomes papers that examine any aspect of art and visual culture from the 1680s to the 1830s. Special consideration will be given to proposals that employ innovative methodological approaches, study marginalized communities, and challenge Eurocentrism. Applicants should send  a 250-word abstract with “HECAA Open Session” as the subject heading to Kathryn Desplanque at desplanq@ad.unc.edu.

Kathryn adds: “University Arts Association of Canada is Canada’s College Art Association, but more intimate and friendly! This year, we are so fortunate to be hosted at the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity. Banff and Lake Louise are nestled in the Rocky Mountains and is one of the most gorgeous destinations in Canada. Please join me in visiting it for the first time. The conference takes place 19–21 October 2023 (the leaves should be spectacular). Of particular note is UAAC’s Annual Graduate Student Essay award. Graduate students who’ve presented papers at the UAAC conference can submit complete versions of their essays for consideration. The winning essay is awarded $250CAD and will be published in the spring 2024 issue of the Canadian Art Review (RACAR). As a past recipient of the award, I’m eager to coach a graduate student through this process.”

New Book | Eighteenth-C. Engravings and Visual History in Britain

Posted in books by Editor on May 26, 2023

From Routledge:

Isabelle Baudino, Eighteenth-Century Engravings and Visual History in Britain (New York: Routledge, 2023), 202 pages, ISBN: 978-1032153643, $160.

Extending the scholarly discussion of visual history, this book examines eighteenth-century engraved book illustrations in order to outline the genealogy of the modern visualisation of the past in Britain. This study is based on a body of more than a hundred engraved historical plates designed in the second half of the eighteenth century in Britain and published in more than a dozen pictorial histories. Focusing on these previously unstudied engravings, this work contributes to the study of eighteenth-century visual culture and is informed by current interdisciplinary approaches at the intersection of visual and book studies. Eighteenth-Century Engravings and Visual History in Britain is about the urge to envision the past and about the establishment of the new relationship between visual media, visuality, and history in eighteenth-century Britain.

Isabelle Baudino is Senior Lecturer at the École normale supérieure de Lyon, France.


List of Illustrations

1  Picturing History
2  Reinventing the Past
3  The Historical Genre
4  Visual History as a New Language

Select Bibliography


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