An International conference held at King’s College London and The Warburg Institute on May 31 and June 1, 2013.
Call for Papers
A belief in Hell has been a staple of Christian thought from the earliest period of this religion. The depiction of Hell and its denizens – the devil, demons and the punished sinners – has an equally long history going back to at least the sixth century. From the eleventh century onwards, images of Hell become proliferate and more detailed in their presentation of the damned and their torments – in parallel to such texts as the popular Apocalypse of the Virgin. Artists come up with different solutions in picturing the various torments inflicted upon the sinners as well as the places where these torments take place. In the art of the late Byzantine period and the late medieval west, the various figures of the damned are presented with inscriptions detailing the crimes and sins for which they are being punished. In western Europe, literary texts add detail to the vision of Hell as well, starting with the 11th-century Vision of Tondal and culminating in Dante’s Divine Comedy. The images as well as the texts that we assume they are illustrating offer a rich field for research. Questions of iconography as well as the exploration of social meanings attached to these powerful representations present themselves. The exploration of developments within the body of texts on and depictions of Hell can be particularly fruitful.
The aim of this conference is to explore the place Hell occupied within society and art as well as the way Hell was envisaged as a physical place. The conference is organized as part of the Leverhulme Trust International Network project Damned in Hell in the Frescoes of Venetian-dominated Crete (13th-17th centuries). The island of Crete was governed by the Venetians from the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries. During this period, the interplay of the religion and culture of the colonizers (Roman Catholic and Italian) and the majority of the population (Byzantine and Greek Orthodox) created tangible tensions. We are therefore particularly interested in material from the historical era covered by the project, approaches that involve comparisons between east and west, and presentations with a particular focus on Crete. Did depictions of Hell on the island’s churches follow theological debates and trends? Was their primary function the edification of the Orthodox congregations, or are other readings possible?
Topics for papers may include, but are not limited to:
· Texts about Hell and punishments for sinners in the Greek Orthodox world and/or the Latin west(13th-17th centuries)
· Images of Hell, with particular emphasis on its layout and topography as well as the layout of its pictorial representation
· Comparative papers on the intera_ction between Orthodox and Catholic notions and representations of Hell in the late medieval and early modern eastern Mediterranean
· The origins – both textual and pictorial – of perceptions and representations of the Afterlife and Hell in particular within the Christian tradition
· The use of Hell and punishment for sinners within contexts of social control (especially in rural communities) and afterlife management strategies
Papers by early career scholars soon after the completion of their PhD are particularly welcome.
Papers are restricted to 25 mins. Please send a short abstract and a brief cv to: Dionysios Stathakopoulos and Rembrandt Duits by June 30 2012.
Accepted speakers will be offered free accommodation and either a full refund of or substantial assistance towards their travel costs.