Call for Papers | Think ‘Small’: Artistic Miniaturization

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on October 24, 2014

From the Call for Papers (avec l’Appel à communication en français). . .

Think ‘Small’: Textual Approaches and Practices
of Artistic Miniaturization from Antiquity to the Nineteenth Century
Université de Toulouse – Jean Jaurès, Maison de la recherche, 1–2 October 2015

Proposals due by 15 January 2015


D’après Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Fillette au capucin
(Montauban: Musée Ingres). Commentaire de Diderot sur le tableau original de Greuze, Salon de 1765: “Approchez, voyez-vous cette enfant ? C’est de la chair ; ce capucin, c’est du plâtre. Pour la vérité et la vigueur de coloris, petit Rubens.”

From the Tanagra statuettes to the scientific automata of the industrial age, there are many material manifestations of the ancient fascination with shapes, images, and tiny objects. The examples abound: carved micro-architectures of Gothic buildings, small engravings by Stefano della Bella or Sébastien Leclerc, the objects of vertu of the eighteenth-century upper classes, and the Lilliputian creatures of children’s literature.

Rare, however, are the historical sources that allow us to understand their cultural foundations. While the written sources usually consider the ‘small’ only in its hierarchical relationship to the ‘big’, the analysis of the consumption of these objects reveals a set of practical, symbolic, and artistic skills such as manoeuvrability, mobility, economy, poverty, preciousness, thoroughness, prettiness, and strangeness. Too often, the dominant sources focus on the size of the objects, which diminishes the presence of other considerations. At times miniaturization reduces the scale of a given object, while at other times it may be an independent creation governed by specific criteria. Whatever the case, miniaturization is based on a set of justifications, usages, and judgments that this conference aims to clarify.

This area of research is nourished by recent scientific trends and interest which have benefited the European production of miniatures, notably through the recent conferences: The Gods of Small Things (Reading, 21–22 September 2009); La miniature en Europe, XVIIe–XIXe siècles (Paris, 11–12 October 2012); L’automate: Enjeux historiques, techniques et culturels (Neuchâtel, 6–7 September 2012); and Micro-architecture et figures du bâti: l’échelle à l’épreuve de la matière (Paris, 8–10 December 2014). Our conference will consider the multiple reasons that explain the taste and interest in miniaturization over time, without favouring any particular medium. We will therefore discuss architecture, painting, sculpture, decorative arts, folk art, as well as poems and epigrams. Crossing disciplinary approaches (art history, history, anthropology, philosophy, literature, philology), this conference will focus in the first place on the theoretical reflections underlying the examination of a body of works. Secondly, we will examine those texts that, even if they comment on the ‘small’ in marginal and critical terms, are nonetheless important in the context of an anthology project in which the presenters will participate.

In order to define the ‘small’ in art and question its varied reception through the ages, each presentation, lasting 20 minutes, will explore three registers of perception, by no means reductive:

Consumption and contexts of use
Economic, marketing and circulation (reproducible series or unique work, mobility, swarming); conservation and presentation (curio cabinets, boxes, editing); functionality, usability, destinations and meanings (private / public; domestic / fun / political; secular / sacred / memorial).

Artistic and aesthetic aspects
Ideological tensions between ‘small’ and ‘high’ art; the issue of miniature reproduction of the human figure (dwarf, pygmy, monsters); characters of courtesy, refinement, oddity, impoverishment, etc., specific to the ‘small’; intercultural relations (exchanges and influences between East, the Americas and the West, exotic).

Human and emotional dimensions
Individuals, human categories and social structures involved in the ‘small’ (women, children, ‘ignorant’, princes, peasants, etc.); an attempt at classification; challenges of physical manipulation and microscopic observation; moral criticism (worship and fetishism); imaginary fables and tales and history of mentalities.

Proposals for papers up to one page and a brief bio-bibliographical record in English or French should be sent to Colloque.Petit.Toulouse.2015@gmail.com before January 15, 2015. The proceedings of the symposium will be published along with an anthology of textual sources dealing with the ‘small’; the papers and the list of references and possible sources for the anthology should be sent by December 15, 2015. Languages used in the symposium: French and English.

Sophie Duhem (université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès, FRAMESPA UMR 5136); Estelle Galbois (université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès, PLH-CRATA); Anne Perrin Khelissa (université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès, FRAMESPA UMR 5136)

Scientific Committee
Jean-Pierre Albert (EHESS, LISST, Toulouse); Lorine Bost (Centre de recherches en Littérature et Poétique comparées, EA 3931); Quitterie Cazes (université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès, FRAMESPA); Pierre-Olivier Dittmar (EHESS, GAHOM); Jean-Marie Guillouët (université de Nantes); Pascal Julien (université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès, FRAMESPA); Jean-Marc Luce (université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès, PLH-CRATA); Christian Michel (université de Lausanne); Jean Nayrolles (université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès, FRAMESPA); Odile Nouvel (Les Arts décoratifs, Paris); Nathalie Rizzoni (CELLF 17e-18e UMR 8599 CNRS et université Paris – Sorbonne)

Penser le « petit » de l’Antiquité au XIXe siècle.
Approches textuelles et pratiques de la miniaturisation artistique

The Call for Papers in French is available here»


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