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

“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

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

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:

Bill Gleason (Respondant)
Martin Scherzinger
Yael Padan
Anna Toledano
Zack Lischer-Katz
Annabel Wharton
Anne L. Bruder
Emily S. Warner
Matthew Bird
Maura D’Amore
Reed Abigail Gochberg
Patricia Yu
Juliet Sperling
Seher Erdogan Ford
Margaret Simon
Catherine Howe
Tilo Amhoff
Lori Smithey
Eric Gollannek
Hilary Bryon
Janelle Rebel
Beverly Grindstaff
Christopher J. Lukasik

Conference program and registration information forthcoming.

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).