2017 “Imagined Forms: Modeling and Material Culture”

Courtesy of ArtStor. “Model of the ear.” Yale University: Peabody Museum of Natural History.

“Imagined Forms: Modeling and Material Culture”
November 17-18, 2017

A symposium hosted by the
Center for Material Culture Studies, University of Delaware,
and the Hagley Museum and Library, Delaware

Keynote Speakers:
Johanna Drucker, UCLA
Peter Galison, Harvard University

As testimony, test, or proposal, models of all sorts record, revise, and reinvent the world.  From toy miniatures to computer simulations, modeling is a primary means by which we make sense of and act upon our material lives, the lives of others and the culture at large.  Everyone models: from artists and designers to prototype machinists and engineers to children.  Models may be provisional or idealized—rehearsals of things yet to be or representations of those that already exist—professional or slapdash, sustained or ephemeral. In particular, models, whether prospective or mimetic, have long animated disciplines and discourses that center on knowledge formation and innovation.  Models can represent existing conventions or visionary inventions; in both cases models are scalar constructions with the potential for affective, aesthetic, conceptual, and technological effects. Inspired by the Hagley Museum’s extensive collection of patent models—nearly 900 items made between 1809 and 1899—this interdisciplinary conference seeks to highlight modeling as both a fundamental human activity and an inevitably material practice.

“Imagined Forms: Modeling and Material Culture” inaugurates a biennial conference series sponsored by the Center for Material Culture Studies at the University of Delaware. We invited submissions from all disciplines—including art and architecture, art history, comparative literature, digital humanities, English, history, history of science, and media studies—that critically investigate the function and form of models, the materials and methods of simulation and representation, questions of scale and perception, experiment and presentation, and the limits of modeling.

The conference will feature presentations by the following scholars:
Jed Esty (Respondent)
Tilo Amhoff
Maura D’Amore
Matthew Bird
Anne Bruder
Hilary Bryon
Seher Ford
Reed Gochberg
Eric Gollannek
Beverly Grindstaff
Catherine Howe
Zack Lischer-Katz
Christopher J. Lukasik
Yael Padan
Janelle Rebel
Martin Scherzinger,
Margaret Simon
Lori Smithey
Juliet Sperling
Anna Toledano
Shirley Wajda
Emily Warner
Annabel Wharton
Patricia Yu

Visit the Imagined Forms website for the full conference program, schedule, and venue information. Although there is no fee to attend, we ask that guests please register by November 7th. Register here.

Banner images taken from Hagley Museum Rothschild Patent Model Collection.

Organized by Professors Sandy Isenstadt (Co-Director CMCS), Martin Brückner (Co-Director CMCS), Jason Hill (Art History), and Sarah Wasserman (English).

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