Recovering the Ritual Object in Medieval and Early Modern Art

Session Convenors

Catriona Murray, University of Edinburgh c.a.murray@ed.ac.uk

Halle O’Neal, University of Edinburgh halle.o’neal@ed.ac.uk

Session Abstract

In the medieval and early modern worlds, ritual served as a legitimising process, a dynamic mechanism for mediating a transference or transformation of status. Objects played an essential part in this performative practice, charged with symbolism and invested with power. Distanced from their original contexts, however, these artefacts have often been studied for their material properties, disconnecting function from form and erasing layers of meaning. The relationships between ritual objects and ritual participants were identity-forming, reflecting and shaping belief structures. Understanding of how these objects were experienced as well as viewed, is key to revealing their significances. This panel intends to relocate ritual objects at the centre of both religious and secular ceremonies, interrogating how they served as both signifiers and agents of change. The organisers specialise in early modern British art and medieval Japanese art, and so we invite proposals from a range of geographical perspectives in order to investigate this subject from a cross-cultural perspective. We particularly encourage papers which discuss medieval and early modern ritual objects – broadly defined – as social mediators.

Issues for discussion include but are not limited to: recovery of the everyday in ritual objects; embodiment; audiences and interactions; performativity; ritual object as emotional object; spatiality and temporality; re-use, recycling, removal; illusion and imagination; memory; thing theory.

To offer a paper
Please email your paper proposal direct to the session convenors, details above.

Provide a title and abstract (250 words maximum) for a 25-minute paper (unless otherwise specified), your name and institutional affiliation (if any).

Please make sure the title is concise and reflects the contents of the paper because it will appear online, in social media and in the printed programme.

You should receive an acknowledgement of receipt of your submission within two weeks from the session convenors.

Deadline for submissions: Monday 5 November 2018

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