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Session Chair: “The Chinese Material Text in Intercultural and Historiographic Perspective, Part II”

111th Annual Conference, College Art Association, New York, NY

Building on a session presented at the College Art Association’s 2022 Annual Conference, this session investigates the special significance of Chinese textual objects in intercultural and historiographic perspective. The surprising afterlives of ancient inscriptions, whether in stone, paper, embroidered cloth, or other materials play important roles in all four presentations. The afterlives are, however, highly varied. A purportedly supernatural, third-century rock inscription provides inspiration for a script that finds its way to Japan some 1600 years later. A Song dynasty inscription reproduced in diverse media is analyzed from a nineteenth-century perspective, when collectors’ engagement with the materiality of the inscription transformed their approach to the text. Likewise transformative was the engagement of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Chinese women with ancient inscriptions; their work sheds light on history as viewed from their standpoint and, by extension, records an overlooked aspect of modern Chinese intellectual history. The final paper considers how eighteenth-century Chinese catalogs of antiquities enabled Korean artists to visualize their patrons’ collecting practices. The interplay between Chinese intellectual history and aesthetic appreciation thus provides a means of addressing the broad historical and cultural significance of a diverse range of material texts.

Presentation, “Jewish Travel Writing in the 1930s”

Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, PA

The New York Public Library’s extensive collection of travel books offers a perspective on what travel meant to Jews in the increasingly hostile world of the 1930s. The view from ca. 1930 sets the stage: travel accounts of the United States published in London, Riga, and elsewhere speak to curiosity about America. Descriptions of the Soviet Union underline the attractiveness of the Communist experiment and ignorance of policies Stalin had set in motion.  Confidence about a wider world of possibilities is evident in accounts of Europe, the Middle East, and Palestine. Underlying anxieties are discernible, too. This presentation explores the scope of Jewish travel writing during a most challenging decade, and analyzes its audiences and goals.

Session Chair, “The Chinese Material Text in Intercultural and Historiographic Perspective”

110th Annual Conference, College Art Association, Hilton Chicago

Sponsored by the Bibliographical Society of America, this session investigates the special significance of Chinese textual objects in intercultural and historiographic perspective. Books include a Song dynasty catalogue of inscribed ritual artifacts from the ancient past that served to promote political legitimacy in the present, and a Japanese travel guide to China that adapted Chinese illustrations to create the appearance of authentic experience at a time when China was closed off from Japan. Other textual objects include ink rubbings of calligraphy inscribed in stone, and ceramic pillows ornamented with lines from popular drama and lyric song that are often the only surviving traces of works once enjoyed by the masses. Both the ink rubbings and the ceramic pillows are considered in relation to the twentieth-century Euro-American collecting practices that brought many of these textual objects out of China. The interplay between intellectual history and aesthetic appreciation thus provides a focus for analyzing subsequent adaptations and interpretations of the Chinese material text.

Presentation, “Frustrated Austrians and Their Italian Art Bibliographies: Leopoldo Cicognara and Julius von Schlosser”

04.13.21 - 04.22.21
67th Annual Meeting, Renaissance Society of America, online

Analysis of two art bibliographies written a century apart – both composed in Italy by frustrated Austrians — underlines the constitutive role of bibliography.

Catalogo ragionato dei libri d’arte, published in 1821 by Leopolodo Cicognara, conveys his overriding concern with reclaiming Italy’s past glory. An enthusiast of the French Revolution, Cicognara was appointed President of the Venetian Academy of Fine Arts under Napoleon. He composed his bibliography during the Restoration period, in Habsburg Venice.

Julius von Schlosser composed “Über die ältere Kunsthistoriographie der Italiener” in an Italian resort in 1925, while chair of the “second” art history department at the University of Vienna. A citizen of the First Austrian Republic, Schlosser advocated Anschluss with Germany.

Comparing these works underlines divergent relationships to an Italian nation and to the discipline of art history – neither of which were fully formulated in Cicognara’s day, and both of which were sites of conflict in Schlosser’s.