Since the 1990s, neuroscientists have explored the mind-body responses to visual-cum-artistic imagery. Neuroaesthetics has emerged from this venture. Although interdisciplinary in spirit, few art historians have joined scientists in empirical research projects. Consequently, neuroaesthetics remains dominated by scientists whose research is limited by small samplings from visual culture. Art historian trailblazers John Onians and David Freedberg have also been limited by the models the scientists have fostered, such as mirror neurons. This session seeks to expand both the artistic media of scientific research and the neuroscientific models for art historical research. We propose an exploration of the efficacy of neuroscience from the side of the viewer’s reception. How do neuroscientific models offer a way of approaching the experiential/embodied effect of art objects that exceed the pictorial frame? Can neuroscience help to better articulate both sensory impressions and the transformative effects of an art-viewing experience? To what extent can neuroscience reify a lived experience within a historical context? In the absence of raw empirical data, responses to these questions and others may be speculative or hypothetical. Paper topics should use individual case studies to speculate the efficacy of neuroscience in relation to an expanding field of art historical studies.
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PANEL ORGANIZER: Professor Lauren S. Weingarden, Department of Art History, Florida State University