#16   COLD (Fall 2023)

Feeling cool is increasingly a privilege in our ever-warming world.  Recollections of colder times have become part of the collective memory as summers lengthen and become hotter.  Cold regions of the globe, long shunned for the hardships they create, have become milder as climate change transforms their once frigid environments into pleasantly temperate zones.  And concurrently, once comfortably warm regions of the globe are becoming impossibly hot, threatening their residents with an uninhabitable future.

This special issue of Journal18 invites contributions on the relationship between temperature and the art of the long eighteenth century.  It seeks to insert eighteenth-century visual and material culture into the growing literature on historical climatology.  The eighteenth century falls squarely within the so-called Little Ice Age, a climatological phenomenon that lowered mean temperatures across the globe between the sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries.  This means that much eighteenth-century art and architecture was made for a cooler world than the one in which we now live.  Moreover, the process of industrialization that began in the eighteenth century is a primary contributor to the climate change that plagues us today.

Can eighteenth-century art provide insight into climate change?  How did an Enlightenment understanding of temperature inflect the period’s visual and material cultures?  Can we trace different perceptions of temperature internationally through images and objects?  Potential topics include the relationship between architecture and temperature, such as the technologies used to keep buildings warm or cool; the material culture of gauging temperature (thermometers, barometers, hygrometers, etc.); pictorial representations of extreme climates, e.g., the tropics or the Arctic; the relationship between theories of climate and the representation of peoples; clothing and temperature; the sub-Arctic north as a cultural space and its place in the period’s art; the visualization of industrialization; and conservation problems in preserving eighteenth-century things in a warming world.

Issue Editor
Michael Yonan, University of California, Davis

Proposals for issue #16 Cold are now closed.

#17   COLOR (Spring 2024)

The question of color has been at the center of artistic debates at least since the seventeenth century, and it has remained a key issue in the historiography of art. What may be at stake in reconsidering color in its historical dimensions now? Recent research on the issue has gone in two directions. On the one hand, color has been studied as a material substance and a technology. Scholars have documented the relation between technological, industrial, and commercial developments and the quality, range, and availability of pigments and colorants available to artists, manufacturers, and consumers. Another approach has focused on the key role of color in the construction of social, racial, and gender hierarchies. Recent scholarship has revealed the intimate connection between aesthetic debates on chroma and the development of the modern discourse of race. Moreover, the eighteenth century’s feminization of color entangled with the notions of make-up and artifice has been reexamined. Clearly, it is no longer viable to think of color in purely aesthetic, ideologically innocent terms.

This issue of Journal18 aims to consider how the current interest in materiality and the matter of art could be harnessed to alter–enrich, complicate, or challenge–our understanding of the historical functions and social and cultural meanings of color in the long eighteenth century. In what ways may the materialist discussion of color as a substance inflect the account of its ideological and discursive functions? What were the new meanings and effects of color as the physical product and sign of growing global trade networks, colonial and slave economies, and expanding empires? How did colored materials­­––pigments, dyes, feathers, shells, minerals––serve as tools of hybridity and a means to delineate cultural difference? Can color’s inherent capacity for infinite nuance offer modern art historians alternative lenses onto to the past? We welcome papers that are attuned to color’s mobility, look beyond Western Europe, and decentralize Euro-centric narratives. We are especially interested in papers that consider the broader methodological questions raised by their subject and seek to develop tools to address the urgent issues posed by color.

Issue Editors
Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, Harvard University
Thea Goldring, Harvard University

Proposals for issue #17 Color are now closed.

#18   CRAFT (Fall 2024)

When, where, and why does craft matter?

Craft, by definition, is any activity involving manual skill. But in the modern western world, the term typically implies specific kinds of activities that produce specific kinds of objects: things like baskets, lace, and lacquerware. In a culture that has historically privileged rationality and innovation, craft’s commitment to tradition, reliance on haptic knowledge, and association with marginalized subjects have rendered it the minor counterpart to more “serious” forms of material production. As a subsidiary to art and industry, craft has often occupied a circumscribed role in accounts of modern art and modernity’s origins in the eighteenth century. Recently, however, craft—as a more capacious category of material production—has become a crucial term in efforts to expand and diversify the study of eighteenth-century art.

This special issue builds on recent investigations while considering how craft’s ancillary role within the Anglo-European tradition has limited its capacity to transform the field. Drawing inspiration from the absence of an art/craft divide in many cultures, we are interested in exploring craft’s potential to radically reframe, reconceptualize, and globalize the history of art. By investigating craft, we also aim to shed new light on related questions of value, skill, and creativity in the making of different kinds of objects. We are inspired by recent scholarship that has asked, for example, how the repetitive nature of American schoolgirl samplers challenges celebrations of the individual maker, or how the meaningfully protracted time of wampum-making diverges from industry’s strict calculations of time and labor. Looking at the issue from a different angle, what would be the implications of discussing academic painting and sculpture as forms of craft?

By bringing together a range of studies that critically engage with handwork, we aim to highlight both the distinctive and shared concerns of craft in different making traditions. We welcome proposals for full-length articles as well as shorter pieces that explore new methods of studying craft. Taking advantage of Journal18’s online platform, the latter could take the form of photo essays, videos, interviews, or other formats that grapple with the complexities of documenting, understanding, and communicating craft-based knowledge.

Issue Editors
Jennifer Y. Chuong, Harvard University
Sarah Grandin, Clark Art Institute

Proposals for issue #18 Craft are now being accepted. Deadline for proposals: September 15, 2023.

To submit a proposal, send an abstract (250 words) and brief biography to the following addresses: [email protected] and [email protected]. Articles should not exceed 6000 words (including footnotes) and will be due by March 31, 2024. For further details on submission and Journal18 house style, see Information for Authors.

Further future issues will be advertised soon.