CFP: Illuminating Metalwork in St. Louis

Representations of Precious-Metal Objects in Medieval Manuscript Illumination.
43rd Annual Saint Louis Conference on Manuscript Studies, Vatican Film Library, Saint Louis University, St. Louis MO, 14–15 October 2016
Due: May 1, 2016


Manuscript illuminations frequently place special emphasis on precious-metal objects both sacred and secular, such as chalices, reliquaries, crosses, tableware, and figural sculptures. Artists typically rendered these objects using gold, silver, and metal alloys, “medium-specific” materials that contrasted dynamically with the surrounding color pigments. The visual characteristics of these depicted metal objects — lustrous yet flat, almost anti-representational — could dazzle, but perhaps also disorient, the viewer: they catch the eye while creating a fertile tension between the representation of an image and the presentation of a precious stuff, between the pictorial and the material. A gold-leaf chalice signals its real-world referent both iconically, via its shape, and indexically, via its metal material, a doubled representation unavailable to the remainder of the painted miniature. Such images can take on added complexity if intended to represent known real-world objects.

This panel seeks to take inventory of how these precious-metal objects were depicted and how they generated meaning. Possible themes include: chronological/geographical specificities in the representation of metalwork in manuscript illuminations; depictions of precious-metal figural sculpture, including idols; technique (e.g. pigment vs. leaf); the semiotics of metal on parchment; and whether we can speak of “portraits” of particular objects and/or visual “inventories” of particular collections. We welcome proposals that consider Western, Byzantine, and/or Islamic manuscript illumination from the early through the late Middle Ages.

Please send (1) an abstract of no more than one page and (2) a c.v. with current contact information by Sunday, May 1, 2016 to both panel organizers: Joseph Salvatore Ackley ( and Shannon L. Wearing ( Selected papers are to be twenty minutes in length.


Poetry at the Post: Kevin Young, The Sachensenpiegel Picture-Books and SLU (there’s more too!)

from Book of Hours
The light here leaves you
lonely, fading

as does the dusk
that takes too long


43rd Annual Saint Louis Conference
on Manuscript Studies
Vatican Film Library
Saint Louis University
14-15 October 2016

Guest Speaker
Lowrie J. Daly, S.J., Memorial Lecture on Manuscript Studies:

Madeline H. Caviness
(Mary Richardson Professor Emeritus, Tufts University)
Medieval German Law and the Jews: The Sachsenspiegel Picture-Books
The Saint Louis Conference on Manuscript Studies is the longest running annual conference in North America devoted exclusively to medieval and Renaissance manuscript studies. Organized by the Vatican Film Library in conjunction with its journal, Manuscripta, the two-day program each year offers a variety of sessions addressing the production, distribution, reception, and transmission of pre-modern manuscripts, including such topics as paleography, codicology, illumination, textual transmission, library history, provenance, cataloguing, and others.


Paper or session proposals are invited for the 43rd Saint Louis Conference on Manuscript Studies, to be held at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, MO, 14–15 October 2016. The guest speaker will be Madeline H. Caviness (Mary Richardson Professor Emeritus, Tufts University), speaking on Medieval German Law and the Jews: The Sachsenspiegel Picture-Books.

Proposals should address the material aspects of late antique, medieval, or Renaissance manuscripts. Papers are twenty minutes in length and a full session normally consists of three papers. Submissions of papers may address an original topic or one of the session themes already proposed. Submissions of original session themes are welcome from those who wish to be organizers.

Sessions Proposed

Patterns of Exchange: Manifestations of Cross-Cultural Practice and Production in Medieval and Renaissance Hebrew Manuscripts
Every year we try to have a panel that parallels the topic explored by the keynote speaker. To complement Madeline Caviness’s “Medieval German Law and the Jews: The Sachsenspiegel Picture-Books,” we welcome papers that will explore/discuss medieval and Renaissance Hebrew manuscripts that reflect cultural interactions between Christian and Jewish communities in diverse geographical locations.

Manuscripts for Travelers: Directions, Descriptions, and Maps
This session focuses on manuscripts of travel and accounts of places and geographies intended for practical use: perhaps as guidance for a journey; descriptions of topography and marvels, or as travel accounts of pilgrimage, mission, exploration, and commercial or diplomatic expeditions. They could constitute itineraries, guidebooks, narratives, surveys, chorographies, or practical maps such as city plans, local maps, or portolan charts. We invite papers that examine any of these aspects of manuscripts associated with travel, with particular attention to their production, illustration and decoration, use, transmission, or preservation.


Pages with Extended Pedigree: Second-Hand Manuscripts and Their Owners
The names of famous manuscripts come quickly to mind, especially because of their association with wealthy and celebrated figures: the Bedford Hours; the Très Riches Heures of Jean, Duke of Berry; the Bible of Borso d’Este, for example. Less well-known are their subsequent owners, who may have been equally notable but have been eclipsed by the aura surrounding the first. This panel seeks papers that examine the cumulative ownership history of extraordinary manuscripts, before they entered their present holding institutions.

Open Panel
Here is your chance to propose and assemble, or propose and contribute to a panel that speaks to a manuscript theme that you have long been wishing to see explored, or investigated from a particular standpoint. We are open to proposals on all manuscript genres, from any geographical locale, on all aspects of manuscript study: transmission and reception, codicology, local practices of production, collecting, library history, cultural influence, and scholarly use.
Please submit a paper or session title and an abstract of not more than 200 words by 15 March 2016 via our online submission form. Those whose proposals are accepted are reminded that registration fees and travel and accommodation expenses for the conference are the responsibility of speakers and/or their institutions. For more information, contact Erica Lauriello, Library Associate Sr for Special Collections Administration, at 314-977-3090 or