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CFP Art and Healing, 1300-1700

  • 2013-04-04
  • 2013-04-06
  • San Diego, US
CFP for a panel at the 59th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America

4–6 April 2013, San Diego

Organizers: Frances M. Gage, Buffalo State College; and Christina Neilson, Oberlin College

Since antiquity powers to heal body, mind and spirit have been attributed to the visual arts, but during the Renaissance new conceptions of how art might cure or preserve beholders came into being. This panel sets out to explore diverse modalities of healing (e.g. miraculous, natural magic, talismanic, "medical,” etc.) and the specific iconographical, material, aesthetic or spatial (in the case of architecture) mechanisms perceived to be at play within them. In addition, the session will investigate the nature of presumed therapeutic or preservative results and the classificatory boundaries ascribed to them (i. e. what were the historical terms used to describe these processes and to what degree should historians apply to these phenomena the following epithets: cathartic, consolatory, somaesthetic, placebo effect)? Papers are invited that consider the powers ascribed to art and the nature of the healing process; the types of illnesses (both spiritual and corporeal) that might be overcome via a work of art (e.g. love sickness; melancholy; etc.); and the manner in which art was used by medical practitioners (e.g. physicians recommending walking and viewing paintings in galleries; pharmacists displaying works of art in their shops; spatial arrangement of hospitals designed for healing; and quacks using magic lanterns and other images and devices) in various geographical and historical contexts.

Please send a 150 word abstract and a one page c.v. to  and by June 7


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