CFP Kalamazoo 2013

AVISTA Sessions at Kalamazoo, MI, 2013

 Call for Papers

AVISTA, the Association Villard de Honnecourt for the Interdisciplinary Study of Technology, Science, and Art in the Middle Ages, is pleased to announce FOUR sessions at the International Congress for Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo next year, which will be held from 9-12 May 2013:

  • New Studies of the North Transept of Reims I: Archeology & Architecture
  • New Studies of the North Transept of Reims II: Sculpture
  • Metal Production & Design
  • Metals in Architecture

In addition, we are in negotiations to have a live iron smelting demonstration at the ICMS, likely on Saturday.  Once details are finalized, we will be accepting volunteers to assist the smith as smelting apprentices.

Full information on the sessions is below and for further information and to see past AVISTA activities at the ICMS, please see under ‘Conferences’.

In addition, we encourage anyone wishing to present on these topics or any other on medieval technology, science, and art at the Leeds International Medieval Congress (1-4 July 2013) to contact the president of AVISTA as well.

AVISTA Grants and Prizes

Staring in 2012, AVISTA will be making an annual Villard de Honnecourt Award for the outstanding paper by a graduate student in an AVISTA session.  This award, which comes with a $500 honorarium and will also lead to an article in the AVISTA Forum Journal, is intended to further young talent in the study of medieval technology, science, and art.  Nominations for this award should be made by a current AVISTA member on behalf of the proposer; for more information please contact the president of AVISTA.

The Society is also pleased to announce that for 2013, up to three $500 grants-in-aid are available to graduate students or independent scholars to defray costs of attending the ICMS at Kalamazoo.  Indication of the intent to apply for one of these grants should be made at the time of submitting an abstract to the session organizers.  Decisions will be made in Fall 2012.

Reims Sessions

Organizer: Jennifer M. Feltman, Florida State University

Presider: Nancy Wu, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The design and building chronology of the north transept façade of Reims Cathedral continues to be one of the knottiest problems in this building’s history.  Even to a casual viewer, the lack of uniformity is apparent and suggests that numerous changes were made in the course of its construction.  This raises questions about the function of the portals and the reception of their sculptures that are further complicated by the fact that a cloister originally encumbered the façade, preventing the viewing of its three portals and their sculptures as a whole.  Scholars since the time of Hans Kunze (1912) have debated whether or not some of the sculptures were originally intended for an abandoned plan for the west façade. While current opinion has tilted in favor of the north transept as their originally planned location, no consensus has been achieved.  Perhaps most importantly, new studies of the sculptures need to incorporate the findings of recent archeological excavations and architectural studies that have yet to be published.  Although the Cathedral of Reims has been the focus of three symposia over the past twelve years, (The 2001 Symposium at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the 2004 International Colloque in Reims, and the 2011 International Colloque in Reims), the north transept has not received sustained attention through the type of focused sessions that AVISTA will organize.

The first session will address the archeology of the site and the architecture of the façade.  Of special interest are papers that investigate the relation of the cloister to the façade, the construction of the façade, and papers that shed light on the contemporary use of these portals in the thirteenth century.  The second session will build upon the first by focusing on the sculptures of the three portals.  We welcome papers addressing issues of iconography, reception, and the re-use and integration of previous sculptures.  It is our hope that these sessions will create an interdisciplinary and international dialog among current scholars working on the north transept, encouraging fresh investigations of the chronology, function, and reception of the north transept portals.  Papers from the two Reims sessions will be considered for publication in the AVISTA Ashgate Series.

• Please send proposals and inquiries for the Reims sessions to Jennifer Feltman, no later than 15 September 2012.  Please note that these sessions may fill quickly, so you are encouraged to contact her as soon as possible.

Metals Sessions

Organizer: Steven A. Walton, Michigan Technological University

Presiders: Steven A. Walton and Carol Neumann deVegvar, Ohio Wesleyan University

Metals were both the underpinning of medieval technology and architecture, but also rare, expensive, and technically one of the most difficult materials to create and use in that period.  Although arcane theories about metal production and design are often woefully overblown, the specific working methods and details that were passed as craft knowledge were abstract, obscure, and often difficult to record textually, visually, or even at times in practice.  AVISTA will run two sessions next year at ICMS looking at the creation of metals and the design of metal objects.  We hope to offer a wide range of understanding from the smelting or iron to the design and manufacture of metal objects.  We welcome proposals for historically-grounded recreations, textually-based analyses, or meta-level papers on the meaning or motion of metals in the medieval world.

For these sessions we would consider papers on ferrous, non-ferrous, and precious metals and hope to encourage scholars to engage in a dialogue with scholars from the history of technology, art history, material culture studies, and ecclesiastical, domestic, or economic history.  We hope to have speakers on a range of objects (everything from ore carts, furnaces, and ingots to hinges, chalices, weapons, locks and keys, book clasps, and so on – from the mundane to the elite and everything in between), but on all of them as metal objects, rather than as the specific object in question.  We hope to foster a broader understanding of metals in the Middle Ages, from mine to use.

• Please send proposals and inquiries for the metals sessions to Steven Walton, no later than 15 September 2012.  Please note that these sessions are strictly limited to six papers in total and may fill quickly, so you are encouraged to contact him as soon as possible.


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