J18 Special Issue: SILVER (Fall 2022)
Silver has held an illustrious place within early modern decorative arts as well as histories of empire, slavery, and colonialism. From cutlery and serving dishes to liturgical goods and medals, silver graced the collections of rulers and churches. During the eighteenth century, silver’s mutability lent itself well to the rococo’s penchant for metamorphosis. Highly regarded for its pliability, sheen, and virtuosity, silver was also esteemed for its inherent value. Silver’s capacity for transformation—from raw material into objects of beauty or currency—made it a valuable medium for artists, a tool for global expansion, and income for rebuilding state treasuries. As a currency standard in the eighteenth century, silver did not share the same vacillations as paper money, but it was subject to the fluctuation of quantities available in quarries, such as Zacatecas or Potosí, since its mining production could directly impact the consumption of goods for which it was traded.
In addition, silver’s mineralogical value became a source of appreciation so that silver, in its raw form, was placed in natural history cabinets. Complementing developments in the natural sciences, including geology and mineralogy, as they became more specialized, silver invited close scrutiny by artists, natural historians, and collectors. Silver’s discovery in quarries sparked the development of silversmithing sites, terrestrial exploration, and mining activities, including novel processes for extraction and the growth of enslaved labor and human trafficking. This intermingling of silver’s multifaceted roles—silver as a source of artistry, revenue, curiosity, and subjugation—positions it directly within the complexities of the eighteenth-century global world.
We welcome proposals for contributions that examine silver from diverse perspectives—metallurgical, artistic, imperial, and financial—and within a wide range of geographical locales. By situating silver within the context of geopolitics, economics, diplomacy, newly specialized sciences, and art, we aim to offer a broad analysis of silver’s vital roles in scientific, economic, and artistic circles across the eighteenth-century world.
Agnieszka Anna Ficek, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
Tara Zanardi, Hunter College, City University of New York
Proposals for issue #14 Silver are now being accepted. Deadline for proposals: September 1, 2021.
To submit a proposal, send an abstract (250 words) and brief biography to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Articles should not exceed 6000 words (including footnotes) and will be due by March 1, 2022.