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Call for Papers | Fans as Images, Accessories, and Instruments of Gesture

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on June 5, 2017

From H-ArtHist:

‘Num’rous Uses, Motions, Charms, and Arts’: Fans as Images,
Accessories, and Instruments of Gesture in the 17th and 18th Centuries

University of Zurich, 30 November — 1 December 2017

Proposals due by 30 June 2017

This interdisciplinary conference discusses the cultural role of fans in art, fashion, and material culture in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Taking the visual and material diversity of fans as a point of departure, it aims at gaining new insights into the various interrelations between fans, paintings, and printed artworks in this period.

The conference takes painted and printed folding fans as its main focus in order to take a closer view of the pictorial and intermedial interplay of ornamental patterns, figurative elements, and artistic subject matters. From the late seventeenth century onwards, fan depictions were often inspired by or based on Renaissance and contemporary paintings. In the course of the eighteenth century, fan leaves displayed an increasing variety of cultural themes, thereby also functioning as souvenirs as well as conveyors of political and social messages.

Furthermore, the conference seeks to examine fans as gender-specific instruments of gesture and communication. In eighteenth-century Europe, fans became important fashion accessories across the social classes and were almost omnipresent in social interaction. In 1711, Joseph Addison, satirizing social etiquette, describes fans as “modish machines” and powerful “weapons” of their female owners. Later visual and written sources enhanced this attribution of meaning, particularly emphasizing the fan’s expressive movements of opening and closing, of displaying and not displaying, which could hide their owners’ faces while at the same time rendering visible their emotions. On the other hand, painted and printed fans presented a wide variety of social knowledge in fast and fleeting pictures, in this way conveying personal statements of those who carried them.

The conference aims to bring together different perspectives on the cultural importance of fans in order to consider issues such as their production, their material qualities, the visual elements and subject matters in fan painting, as well as the various social uses and the reception of fans in art and literature. We invite discussions of both individual fans as well as visual and written sources which reveal the cultural role of the fan in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

This call addresses art historians, fashion historians, and researchers from related disciplines. Possible topics may include, but are not limited to
• painted and printed fans as conveyors of (political and cultural) information
• fans as souvenirs and conveyors of memory
• the reception of artworks in fan depictions
• fans as/within the context of fashion accessories, dress norms and gender-specific body cultures
• fans in cultures of communication and cultures of feeling
• fans in the visual arts (portraits, genre painting, caricatures, etc.) and in literature
• the manufacture and (global) trade of fans
• case studies in the conservation and restoration of fans

Please send your proposal (max. 300 words, in English, German or French), for a paper (20 minutes), a short CV and a short list of keywords (max 6) no later than June 30, 2017 to Dr Miriam Volmert (miriam.volmert@khist.uzh.ch) and lic. phil. Danijela Bucher (danijela.bucher@uzh.ch). Notification of authors: July 7, 2017. Travel reimbursement depends on the availability of funds.

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