CFP: The Edges of the Body: Extremities and Knowledge in Antiquity and Beyond (USC) — Deadline November 10, 2013



“The Edges of the Body: Extremities and Knowledge in Antiquity and Beyond.”

Jan. 31- Feb. 1, 2014: University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Department of Art History and Department of Classics
Conference organizers: Rachel Amato, Matthew Chaldekas, Robert Matera, Ambra Spinelli

Deadline for abstract submission: November 10, 2013

Keynote speakers: Prof. Amy Richlin (Department of Classics, UCLA); Prof. Patricia Simons (History of Art, University of Michigan)

The combined graduate students of the Departments of Art History  and Classics at USC invite submissions for a graduate student conference: The Edges of the Body: Extremities and Knowledge in Antiquity and Beyond. Cultures make different assumptions about what we can know from or through the extremities of the body. We propose to explore how societies from antiquity to the present
have understood the relationship between knowledge and body. In Greco-­‐Roman antiquity, we see the castration of Uranus as the end  of  an antediluvian  era and Scaevola’s right hand as a symbol of nascent Roman nationalism. In the Renaissance, master painters make claims about their virtuosity and identity through the presentation of isolated heads and hands. In the nineteenth century, Rodin’s bronze casts of torsos and backs recall the value long attributed to bits of antique sculpture while also indicating a new aestheticization of the fragmented body for the art market, a trend whose continued relevance might be found in Damien Hirst’s 2007 sale of diamond-­‐encrusted skeletal remains. Examples of topics to discuss include:

  •  Heads, hands, genitals, et al. that contain the agency of an individual as well as specific knowledges or special abilities (e.g. a “green thumb”)
  • The isolation of extremities whose form or size reveals specific character traits (physiognomy)
  • How aesthetic values are ascribed to body parts (the valuation of color, size, shape, etc.)
  • Different means of negotiating the boundaries between inside and outside the body
  • The surface of the body as a space for cultural inscription/self-presentation
  • Ideological struggles (e.g. gender, race, citizenship, etc.) waged symbolically through body parts

Submissions from all disciplines are welcome; priority, however, will be given to papers that use both literary and material evidence.

Please send proposals (300 words max.) for 15-minute papers on these or similar topics along with a current CV to no later than November 10, 2013.