Three calls for papers for the RSA conference at Toronto, 17-19 March 2019:


Matter of Access – Collections and their Availability to a Public


Organisers: Susan Bracken, Andrea M. Gáldy, Adriana Turpin (International Forum Collecting & Display)


Since its foundation in 2004, the international forum Collecting & Display has investigated numerous aspects of both collections and collectors. This type of activity has taken place at our own conferences, which resulted in a number of publications. We have also participated in meetings organised by other societies.


For the 2019 annual meeting of the Renaissance Society of America we are proposing three inter-related panels, which would examine the question of access to the collection from different perspectives. This session proposes to extend the discussion of the nature and pertinence of collections by focusing on the spaces in which they were displayed and how access to those spaces was controlled. By examining how collections were displayed, used and presented and who had access to these spaces, we hope to develop a deeper understanding of the meaning of the collection to its owner and its significance to contemporaries.


The first strand we envisage to be about places and locations: how the site of a collection might have both enabled or hampered access; how the location itself could have been used to characterise the collection or enhance the reputation of the collector. Possible topics might include the diverse locales used to house and display collections, such as gardens, galleries, churches etc. This strand could also address the issue of early museums, which often institutionalised private collections in early modern Europe and necessitated a new etiquette to control the interested audience wishing to see the treasures amassed.


The second topic is envisaged as studying the related issue of “advertising” collections, for example, by means of publications, such as that of the Giustiniani Collection. Such compilations were frequently used to increase the fame attached to a particular collection. In disseminating information about it, they provided another kind of imaginative access. Another type of such “marketing” happened in the guise of less formal, but no less intentional, spreading of information e.g. through reports sent as letters between renaissance courts. Access to a particular collection and contact with a particular collector may thus have been vicarious – and not always entirely based on facts – but without some kind of advertisement, a collection might have been excluded from public awareness. In that case, the number of those wishing to see it, but being denied access, would have been very limited.


Finally, our third topic is ‘Intimate geographies’. Examining the spaces in which women displayed their collection, provides an opportunity to investigate the meaning of their collections and to challenge preconceived notions of privacy and the personal. We invite discussion as to the role of women in the household and whether they had their own spaces or shared the spaces of their consorts. In discussing the collecting and patronage of women, it may be important to also investigate ephemeral collections. Through the breadth of discussion we hope to demonstrate the multi-faceted roles of women as collectors from the 15th to the 17th centuries.

We encourage proposals that consider the many different types of collections, including collections of natural objects, flora or fauna as well as collections of drawings, miniatures and works of art.


Please send your proposals on any of the three topics with abstracts of no more than 250 words by 15 June, 2018 to [log in to unmask].


Please be aware that to be part of the panel in March 2019 you will have to be a member of RSA and be enrolled for the annual meeting at the time of the deadlines set by the society.




Lower-Class Dress, Fashion and Identity in Europe, 1450-1650


In recent years there has been a surge in interest in Renaissance and Early Modern dress, especially in the context of European courts and wealthy households. Although revealing of important aspects of identity, consumption, social practices and more, these studies consider just a small segment of the population; what did average men and women wear and why? How and why did they create or cultivate particular looks? How did ideas about fashionable dress and appearance spread throughout the lower classes? How can modern scholars recover information about lower-class dress, when we rarely have extant examples, archival references or visual sources?


This panel aims to broaden our knowledge of dress and fashion in the past and seeks papers that ask questions about how the average person – for example artisans, shopkeepers, farmers, or peasants - dressed in Europe from 1450-1650. Papers may utilise objects in museum collections, archival sources, visual and material culture, or printed or manuscript material and address questions around reconstruction, curatorial practice, production and/or consumption, gender, sexuality or other aspects of identity. Interdisciplinarity is strongly encouraged and speakers may bring knowledge from dress history, material/visual culture studies, economic history, archaeology, art/social/cultural history, digital humanities or other fields. Papers from PhD students, early career scholars and established academics are all welcome.


Please send an abstract of no more than 150 words, proposed paper title (15-words maximum), a short CV (300-words maximum), and a brief list of keywords along with your name, email address, and institutional affiliation to Michele Robinson at [log in to unmask] by 1 August 2018.




Papal Patronage and Interventions


From the Schism to the Counter-Reformation, the pope and his court are among the greatest patrons of early modern Europe, seizing upon art and literature as harbingers of Christian order, power, and prosperity. These commissions include a dazzling array of objects, ensembles, and spaces, ranging from miniature vessels to grand palaces – even the renovation of Saint Peter's itself. We invite proposals for papers that examine the role of artistic and architectural activities in shaping the image, identity, and office of the papacy in the Renaissance. What were the visual, ecclesiastical, and political motors that inspired patterns of patronage? In what ways did these currents stimulate artistic response? What were the stakes of individual objects and monuments commissioned in this heady atmosphere? We conceive of subjects broadly, spanning the European continent from the thirteenth through the sixteenth century.


This panel is sponsored by the Association of Textual Scholarship in Art History.


Please send a short C.V. (no more than one page), a 150-word abstract, and a list of keywords to Tracy Cosgriff ([log in to unmask]) and Sara Nair James ([log in to unmask]) by July 15.



And one for the 72nd Annual International Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Providence, Rhode Island, 24-8 April 2019


Land, Air, Sea: Environment during the Early Modern Period


Session Chairs: Jennifer Ferng, University of Sydney, and Lauren Jacobi, MIT


Contrary to certain strands of scholarship, environmental thinking about ideas of climate, energy, and habitat were at stake several hundred years before the start of the twentieth century. This panel aims to explore how earlier practices concerning architecture and the environment preceded more modern concepts of environmental exploitation and the consequences of man-made interventions. We intend to understand how architectural practices were stoked by the extraction of natural resources during the early modern era. Construction in Venice, for example, meant the state was preoccupied with managing timber resources in the terra firma. During the Age of Exploration, European shipbuilding likewise led to the depletion of timber reserves in places including present-day Iceland, Portugal, and areas located along the Mediterranean. Such deforestation is also evident in practices in sixteenth-century New England by British and French pioneers and seventeenth-century Dutch East Indies traders, who ravaged the northern trees of Java.


Recent concepts of the Anthropocene have centered mainly on questions of sustainable design and technologies from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. However, ideas of the environment originating within the early modern period provide important markers of the pre-history of many of these developments in architecture and urbanism, both within Europe and in its colonial territories. We welcome papers from the late medieval period to the eighteenth century which outline how architectural practices in diverse habitats began to forecast some of the contemporary problems addressed today by environmentalists.  How did the micro-climates in Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Oceania affect the architectural and urban development of settlements and coastal cities?  Or how did industry drive the construction of buildings and infrastructure including factories, ports, shipyards, and trading depots?  How was architecture impacted by state policies towards forest conservation and land management?


The 72nd Annual International Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians will take place on April 24-28, 2019 in Providence, Rhode Island. Applicants must submit a 300-word abstract and CV through the online portal of the Society of Architectural Historians ( ).


Further details of the submission guidelines are available at Please do not send materials directly to the panel co-chairs. Submission of proposals to the SAH online portal closes at 11:59 on June 5, 2018 (Central Daylight Time).