New Book | Art, Science, and the Body in Early Romanticism

Posted in books by Editor on November 20, 2021

From Cambridge UP:

Stephanie O’Rourke, Art, Science, and the Body in Early Romanticism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2021), 205 pages, ISBN: 978-1316519028, £75 / $100. Part of the Cambridge Studies in Romanticism series.

Can we really trust the things our bodies tell us about the world? This work reveals how deeply intertwined cultural practices of art and science questioned the authority of the human body in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Focusing on Henry Fuseli, Anne-Louis Girodet, and Philippe de Loutherbourg, it argues that romantic artworks participated in a widespread crisis concerning the body as a source of reliable scientific knowledge. Rarely discussed sources and new archival material illuminate how artists drew upon contemporary sciences and inverted them, undermining their founding empiricist principles. The result is an alternative history of romantic visual culture that is deeply embroiled in controversies around electricity, mesmerism, physiognomy, and other popular sciences. This volume reorients conventional accounts of romanticism and some of its most important artworks, while also putting forward a new model for the kinds of questions that we can ask about them.

Stephanie O’Rourke is a lecturer in Art History at the University of St Andrews.


List of Figures

Introduction: Bodies of Knowledge
1  De Loutherbourg’s Mesmeric Effects
2  Fuseli’s Physiognomic Impressions
3  Girodet’s Electric Shocks
4  Self Evidence on the Scaffold


Online Talk | Gerstenblith on Reparations and the ‘Universal’ Museum

Posted in lectures (to attend), online learning by Editor on November 20, 2021

From Penn Museum:

Patty Gerstenblith | Imperialism, Colonialism, Reparations, and the ‘Universal’ Museum
Penn Cultural Heritage Center Lecture
Thursday, 2 December 2021, 12.30–2.00pm (ET)

In this virtual lecture hosted by the Penn Cultural Heritage Center, Patty Gerstenblith will discuss the concept of the ‘universal’ museum and its historical underpinnings. Dr. Gerstenblith will explore its origins across the arc of the 19th century, the inequities of the international legal system and its shortcomings, and the continuing justifications for the retention of looted cultural objects by European and North American museums and collectors.

The notion of the ‘universal’ museum developed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in the context of the founding of the British Museum, the Napoleonic Wars, European imperialism and colonialism, and the mantra of the rescue narrative, which justified the removal of cultural artifacts first from the Mediterranean region and later sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere. Evaluating the right to cultural heritage through a human rights perspective, this lecture will analyze the process and elements of reparations and will propose a paradigm for the restitution of cultural objects that fall outside of the legal and ethical frameworks.

Patty Gerstenblith, Ph.D., J.D., is distinguished research professor at the DePaul University College of Law in Chicago and faculty director of its Center for Art, Museum and Cultural Heritage Law. She was appointed by President Clinton to serve on the President’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee in the Department of State and later by President Obama as its chair. She publishes and lectures widely on the protection of cultural heritage during armed conflict and the interdiction of trafficking in archaeological materials. Her casebook Art, Cultural Heritage, and the Law is now in its fourth edition.

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