#14   SILVER (Fall 2022)

Silver has held an illustrious place within early modern decorative arts as well as histories of empire, slavery, and colonialism. From cutlery and serving dishes to liturgical goods and medals, silver graced the collections of rulers and churches. During the eighteenth century, silver’s mutability lent itself well to the rococo’s penchant for metamorphosis. Highly regarded for its pliability, sheen, and virtuosity, silver was also esteemed for its inherent value. Silver’s capacity for transformation—from raw material into objects of beauty or currency—made it a valuable medium for artists, a tool for global expansion, and income for rebuilding state treasuries. As a currency standard in the eighteenth century, silver did not share the same vacillations as paper money, but it was subject to the fluctuation of quantities available in quarries, such as Zacatecas or Potosí, since its mining production could directly impact the consumption of goods for which it was traded.

In addition, silver’s mineralogical value became a source of appreciation so that silver, in its raw form, was placed in natural history cabinets. Complementing developments in the natural sciences, including geology and mineralogy, as they became more specialized, silver invited close scrutiny by artists, natural historians, and collectors. Silver’s discovery in quarries sparked the development of silversmithing sites, terrestrial exploration, and mining activities, including novel processes for extraction and the growth of enslaved labor and human trafficking. This intermingling of silver’s multifaceted roles—silver as a source of artistry, revenue, curiosity, and subjugation—positions it directly within the complexities of the eighteenth-century global world.

We welcome proposals for contributions that examine silver from diverse perspectives—metallurgical, artistic, imperial, and financial—and within a wide range of geographical locales. By situating silver within the context of geopolitics, economics, diplomacy, newly specialized sciences, and art, we aim to offer a broad analysis of silver’s vital roles in scientific, economic, and artistic circles across the eighteenth-century world.

Issue Editors
Agnieszka Anna Ficek, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
Tara Zanardi, Hunter College, City University of New York

Submissions for issue #14 SILVER are now closed.


#15   CITIES (Spring 2023)

Art and architectural histories have traditionally approached the city in terms of the monuments and structures of its built environment and the distribution of its spaces. But the city is also, after all, its people: people who occupied and inhabited buildings, shared spaces and resources, and invested in or were inspired by ideas, labor, and beliefs. How did the city make room for that sharing? How did it inhibit it? Institutional structures—those of religion, politics, the economy, of ‘police’ in the broadest early-modern sense—played an essential part in fostering conditions in which social life occurred. How exactly did that fostering happen in the eighteenth century, and what were its intended and unintended consequences? At the same time, urban dwellers, whether elite or subaltern, continually use, transform, exploit, or otherwise make a city their own; the social forms an essential context for such appropriations. How were the limits and possibilities of social life in the eighteenth-century city defined, regulated, and sustained? In what ways did different constituencies represent those limits and possibilities, and discuss and debate them? How were they made visible, made audible, made legible? And how did different categories of labor shape and support a city’s social life?

We invite proposals that engage with the questions asked above, directly addressing relations between built forms and social bodies. These are some themes that are, we feel, raised by the topic: boundaries (walls, ditches) and the exclusion or protection of the faiths, nations, and trades they helped shape; bridges and the connections they cemented between neighborhoods, markets, spaces of leisure, etc.; infrastructure (roads, water, lighting, refuse collection) and the support it gave to the lived experience of the city; beauty and the collective aspiration to care and conservation, and also to better worlds that it proposed. We welcome contributions that consider actual spaces and communities and also ones that reflect critically on projects, both unrealized and utopian. We are open to essays that take as their objects of study built form, the representation of built form and the city generally, and urban material culture (e.g. guidebooks, street maps, shoes, carriages, walking sticks).

Issue Editors
Katie Scott, Courtauld Institute of Art
Richard Wittman, University of California, Santa Barbara

Submissions for issue #15 CITIES are now closed.


#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.


Further future issues will be advertised soon.