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CFP: Forwards and Backwards in Ancient Portraiture (College Art Association, Chicago, 16-19 February, 2022)
Portraiture has long been considered one of the most “timely” genres of ancient art. The concept of the Zeitgesicht (“period face”) has become methodologically dominant for Roman studies in particular, but across many cultures of the ancient Mediterranean the presumed datability of portraits has made them central to narratives of stylistic change and development. The semiotic turn, however, has questioned the temporal significance of style for ancient viewers, and scholars continue to highlight the capacity of ancient artists to exploit both retrospective and avant-garde modes.

We invite papers that consider the ways in which ancient portraits look beyond their moment of creation, both exploiting memories of the past and constructing possible futurities. Potential topics may include renaissances and revivals, innovation and experiment, and anachronism or the anachronic. In addition, although the study of memory in the ancient world has been a fervent field of late, such inquiries have often focused on texts rather than images, and we specifically welcome papers that explore the intersection of memory studies and art history; as commemorative works, portraits are a particularly rich but underexplored subject for this kind of analytical approach. Moreover, recent debates over public monuments have underscored the obvious potential of honorific portraits as sites of contestation that offer multiple versions of the past. We welcome contributions with a wide geographic (the Mediterranean World, broadly defined) and chronological (500BCE - 500CE) scope, including but not limited to Greek and Roman material.
The session is currently planned to be in-person (with the obvious pandemic caveats). Guidelines for submission and rules for participation are available online, including CAA’s mandatory Proposal Form. This form, including a short abstract, should be sent to the session chairs Brandon Green ( and Rachel Patt ( no later than 16 September. All proposals will be reviewed and all submitters notified by 23 September.