Symposium: Sign and Design: Script as Image in a Cross-Cultural Perspective (300-1600 CE) -October 12-14, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection 2012 Symposium

Dumbarton Oaks is pleased to announce a symposium, to be held in the Music Room
of Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., on Friday, October 12th, Saturday,
October 13th, and Sunday, October 14th, 2012. Please note that the symposium
will be two and a half days: sessions will begin at 9 am on Friday, and
conclude Sunday afternoon.

In the Middle Ages and beyond, legal, documentary, exegetical, literary and
linguistic traditions have organized the relationship between image and letter
in diverse ways, whether in terms of equivalency, complementarity or polarity.
In this symposium, we wish to explore those situations in which letter and
image were fused, forming hybrid signs that had no vocal equivalent and were
not necessarily bound to any specific language.  Although imagistic scripts
work on the visible, arranging representation, they challenge the legible in
terms of linguistic signification. The incorporation of figures, objects,
colors, even events, within the letter insists on the material dimension of the
sign. As the iconicity of the letter transforms reading into gazing, the
script-like character of the image compels consideration of the
co-signification of sign forms. In mediating each other into altered formats,
the script-image disrupts a-priori models and ideas and thus redefines both
text and image in terms of their signifying and representational processes. The
disruptive effect of imagistic script inheres in a suspension of meaning that
opens the system of representation and signification in which it was produced
and circulated.

During the three-day conference, we propose to bring together scholars of
Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Arabic and Pre-Columbian cultures from numerous
disciplines – art history, history, literature, religion, linguistics, and
law – to consider the purpose, operations, agency and specular forms of
iconic scripts. What sort of communication did they facilitate? Did they imply
reception by the inner eye? In prompting recognition of the aesthetic dimension
of texts, did they open governance, law, literature, diplomatics, and theology
to sensorial appreciation? Did they enforce a latent principle of
non-representability? Does their use imply what might be called an iconomy, a
practice of policing images?

The symposium is organized with Brigitte Bedos-Rezak (New York University) and
Jeffrey F. Hamburger (Harvard University). Symposium speakers include Elizabeth
Hill Boone, Ghislain Brunel, Anne-Marie Christin, Tom Cummins, Vincent Debiais,
Ivan Drpić, Antony Eastmond, Beatrice Frankel, Cynthia Hahn, Herbert Kessler,
Katrin Kogman-Appel, Didier Méhu, Irvin Cemil Schick and Irene Winter.

Space for this event is limited, and registration will be handled on a first
come, first served basis. For further information, including preliminary
abstracts, please visit the website 
( <> 
or contact Francisco López 
( <>

Camille Rhoné

Agrégée d'histoire, titulaire d'une thèse de doctorat en histoire de l'Islam médiéval ("Défendre le territoire en Iran nord-oriental - Khorassan et Transoxiane -, IXe-XIe siècle"), Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

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