Call for papers

AMSTERDAM 27-29 MAY 2010

Session: “Manipulating the Object: Simultaneous Readings and Experiences”

Encounter with the image in the late Middle Ages (ca. 1350-early 16th century) was intimately connected to its reality as a physical object. Altarpieces were opened and closed, metalwork and other small sculptures were handled and repositioned, and even panel painting could be turned or reversed, while manuscripts by necessity required manipulation by hands. This session seeks to focus on how the physicality of an object invited simultaneous readings of the image, and how the possibility of multiple interpretations and functions enhanced its experience. How did users physically manipulate objects, and what did they gain by doing so? How did the actual space around the object and its internal virtual space interfere or interact with the way in which an object was used? While changing the context of an artwork’s display could have an impact on its reception and therefore its meaning, this session seeks to go beyond questions of portability and re-use, to show how boundaries between multiple readings are crossed through the actual shape of a work, its formal organization, by the way it was physically handled, or its possible use of different media. Inquiries into the documentation of such practices are invited, as are art historical and contextual inquiries that tie together iconographic, stylistic, devotional, political, material, and other approaches.

Session Organizers:

Dr. Anne Margreet As-Vijvers, University of Amsterdam
Dr. Margaret Goehring, University of Rochester

Please email a 1-page abstract and CV by Wednesday, July 1, 2009 to both organizers at: and

For further information, please go to HNA’s website.