ICMA AT FORUM KUNST DES MITTELALTERS 2019
CALL FOR PAPERS
due 31 October 2018
For the fifth time the German Society for Studies in Art History invites to an international congress "Forum Medieval Art", which takes place from 18 to 21 September 2019 in Bern.
Session 15: Walter Benjamin and the Middle Ages
Session organisers: William Diebold (Portland, Oregon) and Christopher Lakey (Baltimore, MD)
Sponsored session: International Center of Medieval Art - ICMA
Twenty-six years ago, in “Der simulierte Benjamin: Mittelalterliche Bemerkungen zu seiner Aktualität”, Horst Bredekamp persuasively argued that Walter Benjamin’s famous thesis that reproduction diminished the aura of a work of art did not apply to medieval art. Instead, according to Bredekamp, in the Middle Ages the correlation between reproduction and aura was precisely the inverse of what Benjamin posited in “The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility.” Despite Bredekamp’s historical scruples, Benjamin's popularity and prevalence has only increased in all kinds of historical and cultural inquiry, including about the Middle Ages.
Bredekamp's objection is likely well founded when it comes to medieval cult images and relics, but in his “Work of Art” essay Benjamin was far more interested in non-cultic works of Gothic art, especially cathedrals and their sculptural decorations. Why was this and what does it mean for the validity of Benjamin's thesis in respect to medieval art? This session aims to reinvestigate the question of Benjamin and the Middle Ages to try to understand why Gothic art and architecture loomed so large in his imaginary. We welcome papers that take up any aspect of Benjamin’s writings on the Middle Ages (including correspondences, essays other than “The Work of Art …”, etc.), papers that contextualize Benjamin’s writings against the larger political backdrop of the inter-war period when he wrote or within that period's larger historiography of art history, and papers that examine the utility of Benjamin's ideas to the current study of medieval art.
Please send your paper proposal of up to one page to: