The past two decades have been marked by a renewed concern with the agency, presence, and ontological status of crafted things, witnessed in a shift of interest across several fields from questions of iconography and meaning to questions of affect and efficacy. These developments call into question some of the binary oppositions that are foundational to the epistemologies and ontologies of Enlightenment (and post-Enlightenment) thought: animate-inanimate, subject-object, material-meaning, and so forth. They raise significant questions about the nature and operation of things in the world, their materiality, their ability to act or inspire action, and their relation to speech, texts, and words. Acknowledging the need for an interdisciplinary approach to the profound questions raised by these developments, the conference aims to examine the historical antecedents for these ‘new’ ways of thinking about the material world, to consider their implications, and to imagine the ways in which they might help us develop novel approaches to images, things, and words.

September 27, 1:30–6 pm
Bard Graduate Center
38 West 86th Street, Lecture Hall

Peter N. Miller
Bard Graduate Center

Jaś Elsner
Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford
Finbarr B. Flood
Institute of Fine Arts and College of Arts and Sciences, New York University
Ittai Weinryb
Bard Graduate Center

Hugh Raffles
The New School
Writing Stones

David Frankfurter
Boston University
Female Figurines in Late Antique Egypt – Problems and Revelations in Mimesis and Efficacy

Caroline van Eck
Leiden University
Representation, Animation, and the Excessive Object

Richard Neer
University of Chicago
Not Puzzling Enough: Gell, Art History and the Aesthetics of Disavowal

Zainab Bahrani
Columbia University

September 28, 9 am–6 pm
Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

1 East 78th Street, Lecture Hall

Patricia Rubin
Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

Brigitte Bedos-Rezak
New York University
Media Regimes: Imprinted Matter and the Horizon of Agency (Western Europe, Twelfth-Fourteenth Century)

Peter Geimer
Freie Universität, Berlin
Relics/Stuff: On Composing and Decomposing Aura

Milette Gaifman
Yale University
The Life of Greek Painted Jugs

Glenn Peers
University of Texas, Austin
Relation and Dividuation in Byzantium

Beate Fricke
University of California, Berkeley
Crafts of Blood and Shapes of Life

Frank Fehrenbach
Harvard University
Infra ‘l vedi e non vedi. Enlivenment in Italian Renaissance Art

Pamela Smith
Columbia University
How to Study the Nature of Things: Material Complexes of the Early Modern World

Jane Bennett
Johns Hopkins University
Posture and Sympathy in Leaves of Grass

Gerhard Wolf
Kunsthistorisches Institut, Florence

September 29, 9:30 am–1:15 pm
Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
1 East 78th Street, Lecture Hall

Spyros Papapetros
Princeton University
Animist (Re)turns: Shifts in Approaches to Objects in Turn-of-the-Century Histories of Art

Caroline Walker Bynum
Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
The Paradox of Aniconic/Iconic Materiality in the Middle Ages

Horst Bredekamp
Humboldt Universität, Berlin
The Hand Axe and the Anthropology of Picture Act

Christopher Wood
Yale University
Closing Remarks

Presented by the Bard Graduate Center and the Institute of Fine Arts-NYU