Call for papers: EMCO #5

The early modern period saw a proliferation and a dramatically increased dissemination of printed materials, containing or referring to visual, plastic, and visual-verbal arts, whose range of topics, uses and genres expanded into new arenas and created or were picked up by new audiences. These forms addressed, critiqued and represented politics and politicians, law and religion, (natural) philosophy, satire and humour, rhetoric and advertisements, business and pleasure, fiction, poetry and the theatre.

This early modern print and art culture carried traditions both classical and medieval, but it also explored and challenged these traditions and extended the limits of expression, in both theme and technique, of language, motive and idea.

Yet, there are points, presumably, where this particular mode or family of modes that we may label early modern visual culture, must have begun and ended. Where did it shift from the medieval to the Renaissance? How can we tell? What is it about John Baptiste de Medina’s illustrations to Milton’s Paradise Lost that make them early modern while William Blake’s illustrations are not? How long is the “long” early modern period and what might arguably be said to characterize it?

While attempting to define the borders of the early modern period or what Wylie Sypher termed “the four Stages of Renaissance Style” can only engender endless debates, there is merit in focusing more narrowly on the styles or modes of visual rhetoric and composition that appear to characterize this period, from the typical, safely nested in its temporal midst, to hybrid, mid-transformation exempla we may find on its edges.

The great diversity of visual and plastic arts, encompassing miniatures, court painting, funerary monuments, Italianate sculpture, allegorical, narrative and landscape painting, advertisements, pamphlets, illustrated plays, frontispieces, illustrated manuals of rhetoric, documentation of stage gestures, botanical and zoological treatises, astrological and astronomical charts, atlases, treatises on the art of painting, history books, political satire, and countless other forms, all acknowledged, developed or rejected material and conceptual conditions in terms of stylistic norms, iconographic traditions and audience expectations. These conditions evolved alongside technological developments, such that the advent of new printing techniques, like the higher-quality etchings made possible by Jacques Callot in the early seventeenth century and an increased pan-European understanding of perspective in painting, enabled artists, including commercial artists and artisans, to innovate.

In many parts of the world, and in some sections of society, audiences as well as practitioners of the arts had no access to the original, sometimes ancient, art works that formed the basis for a tradition grounded in imitation and secondary mimesis. Such art was disseminated in prints, or in ekphrastic description, often modifying the originals through intention or inaccuracy, a movement especially evident in visual and visual-verbal representations of animals, places and peoples. In other cases, such as emblem books and religious imagery, visualizations served entirely different purposes.

Was there, nevertheless, a shared approach to visual-rhetorical composition in this period? If so, how and when did it develop? What differences were there between different artists and writers in different locations, countries, continents, at different times? Did they influence one another? If so, how? If not, why not?

In this special edition of EMCO we would like to address the idiom of early modern visual and visual-verbal composition in the light of rhetoric and function. We welcome papers on visual, verbal and multimodal composition and rhetoric, in print and art culture and we are especially interested in explorations of how various forms alone or in tandem express, explore or contemplate political, philosophical, artistic, formalistic, scientific or religious subject matters.

Please supply a (tentative) title and an abstract of up to 200 words by the end of April 2013. Please send abstracts by mail to the managing editor/issue editor, Svenn-Arve Myklebost.

The final deadline is September 30th, 2013.

Examples of possible topics and issues:

* The rhetoric of early modern maps and atlases.

* The use of perspective to present sequential narrative in textual illustration (e.g. Harrington’s edition of Orlando Furioso).

* Emblems as sources or models for drama and poetry.

* Changes in awareness of physiognomy as they reflect portraiture.

* Depictions of initial encounters between cultures – e.g. the Virginia watercolours of John White and      their engraving by De Bry.

* Representations of the exotic or the remote, from continents outside Europe.

* Constructions of narrative trajectory in early modern frontispieces.

* Emblematic forms in funerary monuments.

* Triumphal arches, actual and engraved, in relation to state ritual and the drama.


For information about how to submit, go to About -> Submissions -> Online submissions.

Please note that you need to register at EMCO in order to be able to submit. This is a requirement for managing the double-blind process of the peer reviewing.

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ISSN: 1892-0888