Call for Papers | Romantic Art in the Context of Philosophy and Science

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on October 26, 2016

From H-ArtHist:

Romantic Art in the Context of Natural Philosophy and Natural Science
Die Kunst der Romantik im Kontext von Naturphilosophie und Naturwissenschaft
Goethe Museum, Frankfurt am Main, 14–16 September 2017

Proposals due by 3 December 2016

“All art should become science and all science art,” declared Friedrich Schlegel in one of his many aphoristic fragments. As Schlegel envisioned, strengthened ties among art, philosophy, and natural science characterized the Romantic epoch. Literary salons in European artistic and intellectual centers, such as Dresden, facilitated the exchange of ideas and nurtured collaborations among intellectuals and artists that transgressed disciplinary boundaries.

In recent years, there has been substantial scholarly interest in how Romantic literature engaged with the scientific activities of its day. For example, the writings of Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Novalis, Jane Austen, William Blake, E. T. A. Hoffmann, Heinrich von Kleist, and Mary Shelley have all been linked to developments and concepts in the natural sciences. This attention to science and literature around 1800 is just beginning to prompt re-evaluations of related projects in the visual arts. In the 1990s, studies by Rebecca Bedell, Werner Busch, Charlotte Klonk, James Hamilton, Timothy Mitchell, and John Thornes brought the practice of Romantic landscape painting in proximity to natural science. These scholars proposed that new theories in optics, geology, botany, and meteorology to varying degrees inflected depictions of primordial mountain ranges, glaciers, vegetation, skies, and cyclical facets of nature by artists such as Carl Blechen, Caspar David Friedrich, Carl Gustav Carus, Joseph Anton Koch, Johan Christian Dahl, John Constable, J. M. W. Turner, and John Martin. However, in the German context especially, links between science and the visual arts remain contested. Caspar David Friedrich is an especially polarizing figure. With a few notable exceptions, most scholars continue to focus on the aesthetic, political, and, above all, religious dimensions of his practice, and locate his work outside of larger, European-wide trends in the visual arts.

This conference—a cooperation between the German Society for the Study of the Nineteenth Century and the Freies Deutsches Hochstift, where the German Museum of the Romantics will be established—considers anew the intersection between the visual arts  (including, but not limited to landscape painting) and the natural sciences, as well as nature philosophy in the Romantic context across Europe. Papers are especially encouraged that explore how the nature philosophy of Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling or his contemporaries, such as Carl Gustav Carus, Gotthilf Heinrich Schubert, Lorenz Oken, Johann Wilhelm Ritter, and Frederik Christian Sibbern, influenced artists, informed their practices, and shaped art theory in the early nineteenth century. Please send abstracts (ca. 300 words) for 30-minute presentations, along with a curriculum vitae, to the conference chairs by December 3, 2016. Travel expenses and accommodations will be covered.

Gregor Wedekind
Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Institut für Kunstgeschichte und Musikwissenschaft
Jakob-Welder-Weg 12
55128 Mainz


Nina Amstutz
Assistant Professor
History of Art and Architecture
Lawrence Hall 212
5229 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-5229 USA

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