New perspectives on cultural geography, intellectual culture and the afterlife of the ‘classical’ tradition - CfP - RSA 2022

Ferrari Sarah's picture
Call for Papers
August 5, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Arabic History / Studies, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Humanities, Jewish History / Studies, Medieval and Byzantine History / Studies

New perspectives on cultural geography, intellectual culture and the afterlife of the ‘classical’ tradition

Call for Paper, RSA 2022, Organized by Irene Brooke (The Courtauld Institute of Art, London), Sarah Ferrari (Nationalmuseum, Stockholm)

Recent research into the impact of cross-cultural exchange in the Renaissance has tended to focus on the role of objects as agents and/or on their mobility within the networks created by consumer markets and collecting cultures. The mobility of individuals, whether artists, scholars, diplomats, merchants or other cultural intermediaries, has also been recognised to have played an active role in the transmission of culturally diverse impetuses. However, the actual impact of this mobility - whether of people or objects - on the general definition and understanding of the ‘Renaissance’ as a multifaceted, and in many respects multicultural, reality has yet to be fully determined and explored.

Alongside such research into the wide and varied nature of contemporary cultural influences, scholarship has challenged the traditional Burckhardtian definition of the ‘Renaissance’ as the ‘rediscovery of classical culture’, and in terms of the visual arts, Panofsky’s identification of a reintegration of ‘classical content with form’. The reality of the reception of antiquity in the Renaissance has in fact proved to be more subjective and fragmented than either Burckhardt or Panofsky initially conceived. Within the realm of humanist culture, the ‘classical’ tradition was often received by way of other cultural traditions whether Byzantine, Arabic, or Hebraic. The importance of a wider Mediterranean culture in negotiating the Renaissance perception of the ancient world and in informing the way in which contemporary artists and scholars addressed historicity and investigated new cultural concerns is an area that warrants further investigation.

This panel proposes to explore cultural plurality within Renaissance conceptions of antiquity from an interdisciplinary perspective, considering questions of exchange and translation within intellectual and artistic circles. In particular, we would like to examine how culturally heterogeneous ideas and narratives were disseminated through social networks which extended not only across the Italian peninsula, but also across Europe and beyond. 

Topics/Areas of research that we would like to take into consideration include but are not limited to: a) the influence of wider Mediterranean cultures on Renaissance notions of antiquity; b) the association of ‘classical’ revival with cultural, political, and religious concerns originating outside of the paradigms of Western culture and prior to the establishment of aesthetic ideals and norms based on the later cult of the Graeco-Roman tradition; c) the role of cross-cultural exchange within social networks, arising from formal or informal acquaintances and developing within a wide range of social, cultural and political contexts and backgrounds, in shaping approaches to and understandings of the ancient world; d) the contribution of print culture in disseminating alternative ‘classical’ histories.

Please submit a short abstract (150 words max.) and a brief CV (one page max.) by August 5, 2021 to both organizers at the following addresses:;

Contact Info: 

Sarah Ferrari completed her PhD at the University of Padua, Italy (2014). She has published extensively on Giorgione and Titian’s treatment of landscape, as well as on the transmission and circulation of ideas and objects (S. Ferrari, “Una luce per la natura”. Studi su Giorgione, Padova, Padova University Press, 2016; S. Ferrari, Una traccia per la fortuna europea di Giorgione: da Venezia ad Anversa seguendo le imprese di Giovanni e Giacomo van Veerle, in B. Crivelli, S. Ferrari, M. Grosso eds., Venezia e gli Asburgo. Pittura, collezionismo e circuiti commerciali nel tardo Rinascimento europeo, Padova, Padova University Press, 2018, pp. 103-122; S. Ferrari, Copies and derivations of Giorgionesque Inventions, an insight into the visual and historical sources, in M. Bellavitis ed., Making copies in European Art, 1400-1600, Leiden, Brill, 2018, pp. 298-330; S. Ferrari, Jan de Bisschop e l’antico, in S. Ferrari, A. Pattanaro eds., Disegnare l’antico, riproporre l’antico nel Cinquecento, Padova, Padova University Press, 2019; S. Ferrari, “Una fonte per i disegni di Tiziano: prime riflessioni sui Lusus di Andrea Navagero”, in A. Caracausi, V. Romani, M. Grosso eds., Il Paesaggio veneto nel Rinascimento europeo. Linguaggi, rappresentazioni, scambi, Milano, Officina Libraria, 2019, pp. 27-41). More recently her research has  focused more specifically on the history of collecting and the art market, in Italy and Europe. In this field she has contributed by co-editing the fifth and last volume of Elizabeth E. Gardner’s Bibliographical Repertory of Italian Private Collections (2018), for which she conducted research at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles (2017). She is also among the contributors to the forthcoming volume Portrait cultures of the Early Modern Cardinal, edited by Piers Baker-Bates and Irene Brooke, Amsterdam University Press, with an essay on the “Role and  Display of Cardinals’ Portraits in Venice: the case of the Grimani family and some thought son the ms. Morosini Grimani 270 of the Biblioteca del Museo Correr”. She  is currently working as a Post-Doc Researcher a the Research Department of the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, contributing to the catalogue of the Italian paintings.