51st International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo: Call for Papers

51st International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo: Call for Papers
Pardon Our Dust: Reassessing Iconography at the Index of Christian Art
51st International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 12-15, 2016
Deadline: September 15, 2015
Organizers: Catherine Fernandez and Henry Schilb (Index of Christian Art, Princeton University)

The Index of Christian Art (ICA) at Princeton University houses the largest archive dedicated to the study of medieval art in the world. It was founded by Charles Rufus Morey in 1917. Created with the intention of cataloguing all known works of medieval art according to subject matter, the Index developed over the course of the twentieth century into an ever-expanding resource for the study of iconography. Although the archive originated as a physical catalogue, the information contained in the subject files began migration to an online database in 1991. Now in its ninety-eighth year of existence, the ICA has embarked on yet another conceptual and technological upgrade that will embrace a more capacious understanding of medieval iconography through improved functionality while preserving the knowledge amassed by Index scholars during the previous century. Ever mindful that the ICA depends on the scholarship of medievalists in order to maintain the database for our researchers, we will sponsor two sessions that underscore this fruitful reciprocity. As we reassess how specific fields are used within our records, we seek the input of scholars who are actively engaged with themes related to medieval iconography in the broadest sense of the term. By focusing on issues related to the medieval program and ornament, the panels address categories that currently merit further consideration as fields of inquiry within the database.
invite papers that explore new interpretive approaches or historiographical analyses as a means to stimulate a lively conversation on the ICA’s mission as an iconographical archive in the twenty-first century. In mirroring the Index’s wide geographical and chronological spectrum, we welcome proposals that explore any artistic media produced during the Middle Ages in the Byzantine East and the Latin West. Papers may consider specific case studies or address more theoretical concerns.
I: Program 
As Michel Pastoureau has observed, the concept of “program” as an art historical term has been anachronistically applied to the study of medieval art. The notion that an assemblage of images adheres to a conceptual unity governed by the explicit wishes of an individual or corporate patron remains a source of debate in the iconographic interpretation of any number of monuments, manuscripts, or individual objects. We seek papers that consider the advantages and limitations in using the idea of “program” as an interpretive approach. We welcome proposals that investigate themes related but not limited to the role of patronage and iconography of medieval art works, the question of iconographic unity in monuments, and the disjuncture between the textual and the visual in the scholarly ekphrases of “programs” in medieval art.
II: Ornament
Ornament occupies an ambiguous position within the study and classification of medieval iconography. Recent scholarship, however, has underscored the significance of ornament as a bearer of meaning. We welcome proposals that investigate the role of ornament as an iconographic element within works of medieval art. Topics of interest include the iconographic function of vegetal ornamentation, the role of ornament as a frame for narratives and portraits, the use of decorative motifs as expressions of archaism or “foreignness,” as well as new approaches in the language of describing medieval ornamentation.
Please send the abstract of your proposed paper (300 words maximum), CV with current contact information, and completed Participant Information Form, available here, to the organizers:
Catherine Fernandez (caf3@princeton.edu) and Henry Schilb (schilb@princeton.edu)
Deadline: September 15, 2015