VAC26 Premodern Transmedia


We propose a new working group to consider the implications of the “material turn” for scholarship on the history of art in premodern Europe and Asia. Core participants include two art historians of pre-modern China (Hong and Liu), two historians of Byzantine art (Anderson and Hilsdale) and one early modern art historian (Heuer). All have strong records of publication on the topics of matter, material transfer, and remediation.

How does matter make meaning? Can the same image appear in multiple media while maintaining its "intrinsic" self-identity? In print mechanical reproduction in the modern sense? What is craft, and how does it transform material while being inspired by the medium in the process of making? How is termporality affected?

These and related questions have played a central role in the history of early modern European art. But do they look the same from Beijing, Constantinople, Copenhagen, Hangzhou, or Rome as from Paris and Mainz? We propose to move beyond the uncritical, loosely-defined invocation of “materiality,” seeking instead to refine related concepts and methods through the prisms of our different sub-fields, fields institutionally defined by cultures and periods.

Through this collective endeavor, we hope to clarify where our sites of common ground might lie, and where our horizons of thought, or purview, remain simply incommensurable.

Inactive since: 2019

Group Organizers

Benjamin Anderson

Associate Professor of History of Art and Classics

Christopher Heuer

Associate Professor of Art History

Lihong Liu

Assistant Professor of Art History


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