Deadline: September 15, 2013
Facing the Abyss: Visualizing Submarine Worlds, Aquatic Life, and Hybrids in Medieval Art
“Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep.” – Psalm 107:23-24.
The depths of the sea have long been an uncanny void accessible to little more than the powers of imagination. This is especially true of the the Middle Ages which conceptualized the submarine world as a space of mystery, monsters, and maelstroms. Despite these enigmas, many individuals were also believed to have navigated the profundity below the waves. Alexander the Great famously explored the sea in a diving bell. The relics of Saint Clement subsisted magically in a shrine on the ocean floor. These and many other miraculous legends fostered a deluge of imagery throughout the Middle Ages that constructed the fabulous and often fearsome nature of the submarine worlds.
This panel is dedicated to exploring visual depictions of the medieval ocean and its inhabitants and to charting the voyage of the imagination both over and under this space. Potential topics might include: the Hexameron and saints lives; fish, whales, amphibians, plants and other aquatic life; sea monsters, sea beasts, sirens, mermaids, and hybrids; bestiary traditions; the zodiac, astronomical diagrams, portolan charts, mappae mundi, and the history of submersibles and marine technology.
We are currently seeking proposals for three twenty-minute papers and encourage submissions from students and scholars in all disciplines. The Student Committee of the International Center for Medieval Art involves and advocates for all members with student status. As a committee that addresses the concerns of students, we see this session as a forum for discussion and informal mentorship within our field.
Please submit a one-page abstract, brief CV with contact information, and a completed Participant Information Form (http://www.wmich.edu/medieval/congress/submissions/index.html#PIF).
Please send proposals to Matthew Westerby (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Peter Bovenmyer (email@example.com).