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CALL. 28.05.2018: Winckelmann and His Passionate Followers: Queer Archaeology, Egyptology and the Hi




LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Museum August Kestner, Hannover (Hannover, Germany)


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Johann Joachim Winckelmann’s extraordinary importance for the history of ideas as the founder of classical archaeology and modern art history is being observed at home and abroad to mark the anniversaries occurring in 2017 and 2018 with a number of exhibitions (for example in Weimar, Berlin, Wörlitz, Stendal, Chiasso and Naples), conferences as well as numerous publications (see below).

The “Winckelmann and His Passionate Followers” conference wishes take up the discussion initiated by several recent publications in addition to the “Winckelmann – The Divine Sex” exhibition at the Schwules Museum, Berlin (2017) concerning Winckelmann’s never concealed homosexuality by examining it as an constitutive element of his interpretation of ancient art and culture. With Winckelmann, (male) beauty became a subject of scholarship. Besides such biographical aspects, the question will be posed concerning the extent to which Winckelmann’s influence led to an opening up of the humanities and cultural studies to a ‘queer’ reading of antiquity, generating a picture of ideal masculinity that was both instructive and desirable. Queer and gender studies offer rewarding approaches. The central theme of the conference concerns the new possibilities offered by archaeology in particular to an international network of scholars with a view to unfolding a penetrating discourse over and above traditional gender roles and expanding the erotological practice to encompass the study of ancient history. Focus is placed on the eroticism of desire as an impulse for research, for collecting and for artistic as well as literary production. In the process, Winckelmann’s contemporaries as well as his ‘passionate followers’ to the present day will be discussed, these members of the cultural elite encompassing archaeologists and patrons, collectors, literary figures and artists, some of whom openly lived out their homosexual inclinations, who saw the potential for a fresh aesthetic and societal start in the appropriation of classical (Greek) antiquity.

Extending the conference’s thematic timeframe to Winckelmann’s survival in the present day seems valuable insofar as the reception of this exceptional scholar was initially overlaid by the Romantic movement shortly after the publication of Goethe’s Winckelmann and his Century in 1805, then by the new excavation findings from Winckelmann and His Passionate Followers: Queer Archaeology, Egyptology and the History of Arts 1750 – 2018 Conference marking the 250 anniversary of the death of Johann Joachim Winckelmann (9 December 1717 – 8 June 1768) Greece, Italy and Egypt in particular and finally the increasingly positivistic, universalhistorical orientation of the disciplines of archaeology and art history. After Carl Justi’s Winckelmann biography from 1866, it was only in the 1970s and 1980s that (West) German socio-historical research and literary studies again took up a concrete position on Winckelmann’s homosexuality. There had long been widely held reservations concerning the inclusion of gender-related research approaches in the scholarly discourse along the lines of Egon Friedell’s blatantly homophobic 1936 derivation of Neoclassicism from the “sexual perversion of a provincial German antiquarian”.

The Museum August Kestner, Hannover, is not only suited to serve as the conference’s main venue with its unique multifaceted collection of Egyptian, classical and applied art objects but also through the person of its founder, the collector August Kestner (1777–1853). A resident of Rome for 36 years, he was truly one of Winckelmann’s “passionate followers”. The second prominent conference venue is the Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum, Hildesheim, with its internationally renowned Egyptian collection.

The following high-profile key note speakers have already confirmed their participation: Prof. Dr. Whitney Davis (Department of History of Art, University of California at Berkeley / USA), Dr. Adelheid Müller (Institut für Klassische Archäologie, Freie Universität Berlin / GERMANY) und Prof. Robert Deam Tobin (Henry J. Leir Chair in Foreign Languages, Literature and Culture, Clark University, Worcester / USA).

Possible sections for the conference programme:

*The queer view of history and art

*Homosexuality/homosexualities in ancient civilisations and its survival

*Archaeology and erotology as cultural practice

*Agents of taste: Winckelmann’s contemporaries

*The institutionalisation of archaeology, museumization of antiquity

*Queer Readings: Winckelmann’s survival in the visual arts and literature

*LGBT scholars in classical and art history

*Gay art history/histories? Biographies of Winckelmann to the present

We invite papers for this interdisciplinary international conference ranging from general overriding theoretical themes to case studies concerning striking personalities. The call for papers is directed at scholars from all disciplines: classical archaeology, Egyptology, art history and visual culture, gender studies, history and their related branches (social history, media history etc., comparative literature).

Contributions and submissions in English, German and French are possible. The lectures should not be longer than 20 minutes (plus 10 minutes discussion). A printed publication of all conference paper is planned for 2019. Please email an abstract of your topic suggestion (maximum 1000 characters) in addition to a brief CV by 28 May 2018 at the latest to:

(Dr. Wolfgang Cortjaens)

Participants who have been invited based on their abstracts will receive travel costs (economy), hotel for four nights as well as an expense allowance. The multifaceted cultural programme in Hannover and Hildesheim will provide for a relaxed framework for discussions.

We are looking forward to you submission and will inform you as soon as possible if we can include it in our conference programme. In case of questions, please do not hesitate to contact the organiser

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