Call for Papers: Beyond the Western Mediterranean – Trade and Exchange of Materials, Techniques and Artistic Production, 650–1500

Conference 20 April 2013 at The Courtauld Institute of Art; Call for Papers deadline: 3rd September 2012

The notion of a shared Mediterranean culture has become a central tenet in the study of medieval art history (see also the Mediterranean Mobilities website). Growing out of the Roman mare nostrum, the Mediterranean as a conduit of communication, dissemination, and transmission throughout the Middle Ages is shaping the scope of our discipline. Yet the investigation into the Mediterranean remains unbalanced, and while the northern and eastern edges of the basin are well investigated, historiographical and political considerations have limited the study of the sea’s southern shores, not to mention the exchanges across that other sea – the sea of sand – that lies beyond those territories’ southern borders.

This one-day workshop at the Courtauld Institute of Art Research Forum takes as its topic the broader sphere of influence of the Western Mediterranean. Focusing primarily on inter-connections in the Western Mediterranean basin, from the Maghreb to Italy, from Ifrīqiya to Iberia, we will also investigate how this north-south axis extended well beyond the littoral regions to encompass sub-Saharan kingdoms, the Atlantic Ocean, and even the British Isles. The day’s proceedings are primarily intended to implicate art historians in this discussion about a global middle ages, and we will draw from interdisciplinary discoveries in recent years, especially the wealth of archaeological work accomplished by colleagues around London. The material culture of these regions, including such luxurious materials as ivory, gold, ceramics, pigments and textiles, augments the limited offerings of historical texts in delineating the complex interactions across geographical boundaries. In this way we hope to probe the foundations of a world artistic culture not only through shared materials and techniques, but also through the yearnings and desires such interactions engendered.

We seek papers that address evidence touching on connections between at least two regions, for example the transfer of technologies from one region to another, the trade in raw materials, or the emulation of artistic forms.

Please send abstracts of 250-300 words to or by 3rd September 2012.

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