Paper Proposals for ASECS due on Wednesday

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on September 10, 2010

2011 American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Conference
Vancouver, British Columbia, 17-20 March 2011

Proposals due by 15 September 2010

The 2011 ASECS conference takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia, March 17-20, at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre. Along with our annual luncheon and business meeting, HECAA will be represented by two panels chaired by Douglas Fordham and David Ehrenpreis and Kevin Justus. In addition to these, a wide selection of sessions are also included, here»

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Art Before Nationalism (Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art and Architecture)

Douglas Fordham and David Ehrenpreis, U. of Virginia, McIntire Dept. of Art, PO Box 400130, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4130; Tel: (434)243-2285 (Douglas work); Fax: (434) 924-3647 (Douglas work); E-mail: fordham@virginia.edu, EHRENPDH@jmu.edu

The concept of nationalism is often associated exclusively with modern state formation and the push for popular sovereignty that accompanied the American and French revolutions during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. But how are we to interpret the shifting attitudes toward the state in other periods and/or in other places? This session seeks papers that explore the relationship between visual art and the concept of nationhood at a variety of moments and geographic locations throughout the long eighteenth century. Papers could address this relationship through a focused examination of individual works of art, aesthetic theories, or broader frames of inquiry. Relevant questions might include: Has there been a tendency to read 19th century notions of nationhood and nationalism back onto the eighteenth century? Were there aspects of either art production or aesthetic writing that failed to cross national boundaries?  Is there a difference between patriotism and nationalism during this period? Have British and/or French conceptions of nationhood been imported uncritically into our understanding of other ‘national’ artistic traditions? These are the types of questions that we encourage contributors to pose through the lens of their own regional and interpretative specializations.

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Looking Forward, Looking Back: HECAA’s New Scholars Session (Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art and Architecture)

Kevin Justus, 4134 E Hayne Street, Tucson, AZ 85711; Tel: (520) 327-8407; E-mail: kevinjustus@yahoo.com

This session seeks to present works by new scholars who are members of HECAA. A diverse subject matter is encouraged and welcomed.

Exhibition in Atlanta: ‘Islamic Calligraphy’

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on September 10, 2010

From The Carlos Museum (thanks to Courtney Barnes for her account at Style Court) . . .

Islamic Calligraphy and the Qu’ran, ca. 1600-1900
The Carlos Museum, Emory University, Atlanta, 28 August — 5 December 2010

Calligrapher’s storage box from Turkey, eighteenth century, wood inlaid with tortoiseshell (over gold leaf), ivory, brass, mother-of-pearl and bone. Private Collection.

The Carlos Museum will host complementary exhibitions showcasing exceptional masterworks of Islamic calligraphy and related objects. Islamic Calligraphy and the Qu’ran combines Traces of the Calligrapher: Islamic Calligraphy in Practice, c. 1600–1900 and Writing the Word of God: Calligraphy and the Qur’an, and will be on view from August 28 to December 5, 2010.

The exhibitions and accompanying community outreach and educational programs will celebrate the rich religious and artistic tradition of calligraphy, or “beautiful writing,” the most esteemed of the Islamic visual arts. The varied works of calligraphy in the exhibitions—from practice alphabets to elaborately finished manuscripts—serve as traces of individuals, belief systems, and cultures. The costly and exotic materials lavished on writing instruments also document the international trade of the period, from 1600 to 1900, and create a rich material legacy that fuses aesthetics and piety.

Approximately 150 objects and works from an important private collection in Houston and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University Art Museums convey the elegance of the esteemed art form and reveal the skills of the many artisans—calligraphers, paper makers, gold beaters, illuminators, bookbinders, and metalworkers, to name a few—involved in the creation of the tools, the calligraphies, and the manuscript folios.

The practice of calligraphy constituted an expression of piety, as stated in the hadith (associated with the Prophet Muhammad): “the first thing created by God was the pen.” Calligraphy became a worthwhile endeavor for men of all stations and served as a permanent record of the calligrapher’s character.

Traces of the Calligrapher maps the practice of the calligrapher from the 17th through the 19th centuries both through examples of calligraphy, as well as through tools of the trade. The objects in the exhibition come from Iran, Turkey, and India, and include reed pens, penknives (used to cut the nib of the pen), and maktas (used to hold the pen during this process), in addition to inkwells, scissors, burnishers, storage boxes, and writing tables.

The fine craftsmanship of these objects is revealed in the exquisite and detailed designs, which often employ precious materials such as jade, agate, ivory, ebony, silver, and gold. Calligraphic practice exercises and fair copies are displayed alongside these implements, and a video shows a master calligrapher at work. Together, the objects and their output present a comprehensive overview of the intimate world of the calligrapher and the environment in which he worked.

Writing the Word of God is devoted to key developments of the Islamic scripts of distinct cultural areas, spanning from Spain and North Africa to greater Iran from the seventh to the 15th centuries. A selection of approximately 20 folios from now-dispersed Qur’ans from the regions will illustrate the rich variety and system of scripts.

The exhibitions were organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Harvard University Art Museums, and were curated by Mary McWilliams, Norma Jean Calderwood Curator of Islamic and Later Indian Art at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, and David J. Roxburgh, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Professor of Islamic Art History at Harvard University.

Sartorial Choices for Academics

Posted in opinion pages by Editor on September 10, 2010

From the Editor

With the beginning of a new academic year and a new round of attacks on the tenure system, we perhaps shouldn’t be surprised that the question of how professors should dress surfaces once more (older discussion can be found here). Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus in their book, Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids — And What We Can Do About It (recently reviewed in The New York Times) use clothes as a shorthand for what they see as larger problems in the system:

Say goodbye to Mr. Chips with his tattered tweed jacket; today’s senior professors can afford Marc Jacobs.

Katrina Gulliver, who works on urban identity in colonial cities, ca. 1500-1900, responds to Hacker and Dreifus, The New York Times review, and general assumptions that professors shouldn’t look overly fashionable — or even professional (a Research Fellow at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Gulliver hosts the podcasts, Cities in History; her website is especially useful for anyone interested in historians who Tweet, Twitterstorians).

For all the ways I find myself nodding in agreement with Gulliver’s critique of Hacker and Dreifus, it doesn’t quite match my own feelings: apart from the question of whether academics should dress fashionably, the vast majority of my colleagues (at various institutions across North America) simply are not, in fact, sporting Marc Jacobs. Period. I imagine it stems from a lack of interest and a lack of resources, but whatever the reasons, the reference by Hacker and Dreifus seems to be a straw man for the sake of rhetorical flourish. Regardless, it’s interesting that once again fashion serves as a means of critiquing, not establishing academic credibility. We’ve heard this refrain before. It’s probably safe to bet that we’ll hear it again.

-Craig Hanson

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