A Digital Symposium co-organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Haggerty Museum of Art
September 8th and 9th, 2022




Call for Papers

This virtual symposium will bring together an interdisciplinary group of academics and museum professionals working on the broad topic of how the Middle Ages appears in the contemporary imagination, and the legacies of medieval-inspired aesthetics in a wide variety of artistic traditions and media. The rise of modern fantasy visual culture is closely tied to the renewed interest in the medieval past that emerged in the late eighteenth century and which is ongoing today. Medievalisms pervade modern fantasy, illuminating not only the complex receptions of the Middle Ages when subjected to new modes of inquiry, but also the challenges and anxieties that coincided with what is broadly conceived as “modernity.” The visual and conceptual relationships between modern fantasy and medievalisms has become an urgent subject in a variety of cultural studies disciplines and constitute key points of departure in the two exhibitions that frame this symposium: The Fantasy of the Middle Ages (The Getty Center, June 21–September 11, 2022) and J. R. R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript (Haggerty Museum of Art, August 19–December 12, 2022). While much of the scholarly work on this topic has been focused on literary uses of medieval tropes, this symposium presents an opportunity to reframe the conversation in terms of the visual and especially engage issues of popular culture. The symposium organizers seek submissions in two different categories: Conference Papers and Lightning Talks. We welcome proposals from scholars, museum professionals, graduate students, and independent researchers. Conference Papers will be approximately 20 minutes and organized in thematic panels. Possible topics include but are not limited to:
  • Fantasy imagery in the museum (e.g. curatorial and pedagogical approaches)
  • Medieval fantasy recreations in all media (comic books, trading cards, film, television, reenactment, etc.)
  • Historicizing fantasy representations
  • Fantasy within and on the historical margins of art institutions
  • Media and the supernatural
  • Intersections of fantasy imagery and colonialism

Lightning Talks will be approximately 5-7 minutes each and focus on a single object. These shorter talks will be an opportunity for speakers to engage closely and concisely with the visual language of their chosen image and what it reveals with respect to the broader conversations of the symposium. Images in any medium and from any geographical context will be considered, but should be limited to the period from approximately the eighteenth century to the present. For Conference Papers, please submit an abstract (approximately 500 words) and a CV. For Lightning Talks, please submit your proposed image, an abstract identifying the themes and questions it prompts (approximately 250 words), and a CV.

Submissions should be sent to mythicalpastsfantasyfutures@gmail.com by April 15th. Accepted speakers will be notified by May 15th. All participants will receive a speaker’s fee, the details of which will be outlined in the notice of acceptance. Participants may be invited to submit their contributions for inclusion in published proceedings.