Premodern Theories of Artistic Creativity (SECAC, Chattanooga, TN, Oct. 16-19, 2019)

Rachel Danford's picture
Call for Papers
April 1, 2019
Tennessee, United States
Subject Fields: 
Ancient History, Archaeology, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Medieval and Byzantine History / Studies

Session at SECAC 2019, Chattanooga, TN, Oct. 16-19, 2019

Premodern Theories of Artistic Creativity

Submission Deadline: April 1, 2019

Art historians admire innovation; we teach our discipline as a series of radical breaks in tradition. Yet, the ways in which historical makers and viewers of art thought about creativity often differ considerably from present notions. In the past 20 years, medievalists, in particular, have articulated the differences between modern and premodern theories of invention. In her seminal book,The Craft of Thought (1998), Mary Carruthers argued that medieval creativity was mnemonic in nature; new images arose from the recombination of remembered things rather than being invented ex nihilo. More recently, Patricia Clare Ingham has explored the value of novelty in the later Middle Ages (Medieval New, 2015).

This session invites papers that explore theories of artistic creativity in ancient and medieval contexts (any region of the world before ca. 1500). Papers that consider the following topics would be especially welcome: ancient or medieval workshop practices and the training of young artists; the development of new art-making techniques; "weird" works of art that do not conform to the dominant style of the period in which they were made; and/or treatises on art-making or biographies that present artists as being divinely inspired.

Paper proposals must be submitted by April 1, 2019, through SECAC's online portal, available here: On the portal you will fill out your name and institutional affiliation (if any). Submit a 200-word abstract, and upload a PDF of your CV.

Any questions may be directed to the session organizer, Rachel Danford, at

Contact Info: 

Rachel Danford, Assistant Professor, School of Art and Design, Marshall University

Contact Email: