CFP: Multi-author essay collection Art and the Verdant Earth: The Green Worlds of the Renaissance and the Baroque (8/15/15)

by Jessica C. Murphy

From Karen Goodchild, Chair Department of Art and Art History, Wofford College:

Call for contributions to a multi-author essay collection

Art and the Verdant Earth: The Green Worlds of the Renaissance and the Baroque

The green mantle of the earth! This age-old metaphor casts the greening of the earth as a divine marvel while also calling upon poets and artists to re-fashion the greenness of nature into art. Ecological writers like Rachel Carson and E. O. Wilson used the expression as a poetic figure for the terrestrial vegetation we take for granted. The topic of Art and the Verdant Earth is the representation of vegetation in the art of the Old Masters. Its ambition is to reveal the visual poetics underpinning the pictorial expression of greenery in images that are traditionally called landscapes.

We invite essays on the visual poetics of a verdant earth. How did artists in Early Modern Europe compete with poets (and Nature) in the fashioning of natural imagery? How did they manage/ manipulate the infinitude of irregularities that is nature’s way? What can be said of the many types of landscape painting (pastoral, sylvan, rural, wilderness, or even river views, clearings, and distressing wastelands) in light of a poetics of vegetation, and in light of the realities of land use? Artists, we believe, followed a kind of lyrical naturalism, which turns the phenomena of nature into the common themes and recurrent motifs of visual poetry. It also links the inexhaustible treasures of the natural world to the poets whose epithets for green matter served as precepts that directed artists in the discovery of just those traits – be it the obdurancy of an oak or the pliancy of a willow- that turn vegetation into eloquent depiction.

This collection of essays is being seriously considered by Ashgate Publishing. Edited by Karen Hope Goodchild, April Oettinger and Leopoldine Prosperetti, it will draw from art history, literature, gender studies, emblem studies, environmental studies, natural philosophy, natural theology, and botany to treat ideas of verdancy and vegetation in the Renaissance. Topics might include:

  • the technical problem of unstable pigments and the difficulty of achieving a durable color green
  • From Giorgio Vasari and Karel van Mander to Goethe: theoretical perspectives on greenery in art
  • The Renaissance print and the dissemination of vegetal imagery
  • Theologies of greenery: the vegetative argument in theology and philosophy
  • the role of vegetation in the painted landscape
  • the authority of poetry in natural imagery: from Virgil to Goethe
  • No Tree, No Pastoral. Trees and pastoral scenery
  • Women, Luxuria and the color green: vegetative imagery and gender
  • masters of vegetal imagery in the European canon
  • sylvan moments in European art
  • historically envisioning greenery and modern environmentalism

Finally, we welcome articles that address the very topical question, “Was the Renaissance green?”

Art and the Verdant Earth: The Green Worlds of the Renaissance and the Baroque will be an illustrated volume, with individual contributors responsible for any permission and/or art acquisition fees. Final essays, of approximately 8,000 words (incl. notes), and all accompanying b&w illustrations/permissions will be due in spring 2016. For consideration, please send an abstract (max. 500 words), a preliminary list of illustrations (if applicable), and to a 100-word biography to leopoldine@jhu.edu, april.oettinger@goucher.edu, & GoodchildKH@Wofford.edu by August 15. 2015. Acceptance notifications will be emailed by mid-September.

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