Call for Papers from Asian Scholars: "Space in Renaissance Italy" (Shanghai 2014)

Harvard Shanghai Center
16-17 October 2014


Space at I Tatti, full

Villa I Tatti – The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, in collaboration with the Harvard Center Shanghai, is pleased to announce a call for papers for “Space in Renaissance Italy.” The conference sets out to examine the varied meanings and functions of Renaissance space as expressed through art and architecture, historical developments, literature, music, and urbanism. Space has emerged in recent scholarship on Early Modern Europe as crucial for understanding the relationships between objects and their original viewers. Topics for papers might include, but are not limited to, explorations of literary spaces in Renaissance texts; politics and public spaces: the spatial dynamics of streets and piazzas; site-specific viewing conditions for paintings, sculptures, and buildings; and the role played by public sculpture and monumental architecture within the city. Papers might also address the creation of spatial illusionism through one-point perspective as developed in Renaissance Italy; in addition, they might consider the impact of perspective on Asian visual culture, either through comparative analyses or a study of its diffusion in Asia.

The conference focuses on Italy between the 13th and 17th centuries, but also welcomes cross-cultural dialogue. We aim to probe the similarities and distinctions between understandings of space found in related Eastern and Western literature, from the Renaissance period and our own. Thus, we invite contributions that compare how space was created and discussed in Renaissance Italy and in Asia. Do artworks and their contextualized meanings operate in similar ways? Do concepts and terms like “domestic”, “private,” and “public,” translate across cultures and centuries? Did individuals who travelled between these cultures negotiate the differences in meaning and interpretation of spatial matters? How might we consider the micro-histories of objects that have moved between one cultural context and another as vehicles of cultural translation of spatial values – and has meaning been “lost in translation” for works of art, literature, or music? We invite proposals that address these and related topics.

The application form is available here; all applications must be made online.


1.    Applicants must be citizens and residents of an Asian country. The selection committee actively seeks participants from different parts of Asia.
2.    Applicants must live and work in Asia for at least half the year. (Scholars currently working outside of Asia on a Fellowship project are eligible to apply.)
3.    Applicants must have a PhD, with the certificate bearing a date before 1 July 2014. Preference will be given to scholars who teach or research Italian Renaissance topics.
4.    Presenters must have a good knowledge of English, so they can deliver papers and participate actively in discussion. Telephone interviews might be part of the selection process.
5.    After the conference, speakers will be provided with reimbursement for transportation (within Asia) and accommodations.
6.    Teams of two or three collaborators can make a single application, as long as one member fits all the guidelines listed above. In that case, application should be made in the name of one scholar, and only he or she will receive reimbursement.
7.    Topics should be focused, given that presentations will be limited to 20 minutes; this format will leave time for discussion.
8.    Proposals must be no longer than 4500 English characters (roughly 425 words). Only one proposal per scholar will be considered.
9.    Application deadline: July 7, 2014 (midnight, Eastern Standard Time).

Click here for the program for the Shanghai 2013 conference, "The Italian Renaissance in China: New Research by Chinese scholars"

Major funding for this event is provided from the Harvard China Fund, and through a grant for the I Tatti Summer Seminar from the Getty Foundation, as part of its Connecting Art Histories initiative.