mercredi 9 septembre 2015

Les techniques pré-modernes de marquage du corps

Signs, Symptoms, Stigmata: Early Modern Techniques of Inscribing the Body and their Contemporary Relevance

Call for papers

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

The following seminar will be held at the annual meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. March 17-20, 2016: Signs, Symptoms, Stigmata: Early Modern Techniques of Inscribing the Body and their Contemporary Relevance.

For those unfamiliar with the ACLA format, conference attendees participate in a seminar on a given theme/question for the duration of the conference. Participants in the seminar share 20-minute papers and discussion around the chosen theme, and may also attend other seminar sessions as their own seminar’s schedule permits. While the venue is a comparative literature conference, this seminar’s organizers strongly encourage proposals from across the disciplines, with hopes that our meetings will create a space for lively dialogue among a dynamic group of scholars interested in the meanings and uses of marks on skin in the early modern period. We hope to produce an edited volume as an offshoot of the seminar.

Interested participants are encouraged to submit a paper proposal of around 200 words through the online portal of the ACLA website by September 23rd, 2015:

Please feel free to contact Peter Erickson and Katherine Dauge-Roth for any further inquiries.

Signs, Symptoms, Stigmata: Early Modern Techniques of Inscribing the Body and their Contemporary Relevance

Co-Organizers: Peter Erickson, Oakland University and Katherine Dauge-Roth, Bowdoin College

Marks seemed to proliferate on the early modern body, which medical, astrological, religious, and judicial discourses cast as impressionable. 1647 saw the publication of the first treatise entirely devoted to stigmata, Théophile Raynaud’s De Stigmatismo, Sacro et Profano, Divino, Humano, Dæmoniaco. Far from employing the term stigmata merely to describe marks resembling those of Christ, Raynaud and his contemporaries gave it a far greater semantic reach, referring to a wide range of marks on skin made by natural forces, by supernatural forces, or by human beings.

Beginning around 1800, however, these marks came under increasing suspicion. In the wake of juridical reforms, the criminal body, instead of being publicly branded, would face subtler methods of surveillance and discipline. In the sphere of religion, claims to have received the stigmata met with skepticism. Even in the field of medicine, the symptom came under intense scrutiny, as it became a commonplace to note that one could be dreadfully ill and yet show no visible signs of it. Aesthetic modernism would indeed seem to have been founded upon a polemic against ornamental decoration, preferring clean lines and surfaces. In his Ornament und Verbrechen, Adolf Loos –– equating architectural and bodily ornamentation –– derided tattooing as primitive and effeminate. Stripped of its juridical and of its spiritual meaning, bodily inscription would thus seem to be on the brink of cultural irrelevance, condemned to the realm of kitsch.

What is the legacy of the early modern tradition of “stigmata,” and how are we to understand its troubled relationship to modernity? Building upon recent scholarship, this seminar calls for a comparative, historical investigation of the practices and meanings of marking the body in the early modern period, and asks after their contemporary relevance. The organizers seek twenty-minute presentations to open lively discussion. We plan to pursue publication of article versions of seminar papers, to be submitted to a blind peer-review process, as an edited volume.

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