CALL FOR PAPERS: Art and Articulation

8-9th January 2016, St Hilda's College, Oxford

The relationship between word and image, and the ways in which medieval art (be it visual, textual, or both) operates as a means of expressing the inexpressible, will be explored in a two-day conference held in Oxford under the auspice of the Mystical Theology Network.

This interdisciplinary conference will bring together theologians, art historians, and literary scholars to examine the ways in which various forms of artistic expression have been and can be used to articulate the mystical or that which cannot easily be spoken. The principal focus will be art and articulation in medieval works and modern responses to them.

The conference will investigate the role of art and its connection to forms of mystical knowing through various strands. From visual art, through optics, apophasis and ekphrasis to mystical theology, this multidisciplinary approach to illumination will shed new light on the role of art in mystical contemplation.

Keynote Speakers:

Barbara Baert, Professor of Art History, KU Leuven.
Inigo Bocken, Director of the Titus Brandsma Instituut for the Study of Spirituality, Radboud University of Nijmegen.
Sheila Gallagher, Artist, and Associate Professor of Fine Arts, Boston College
Vincent Gillespie, J.R.R. Tolkien Professor of English Literature and Language, University of Oxford.
Catherine Karkov, Professor of Art History, University of Leeds.
Michael Kuczynski, Associate Professor of English, Tulane University.
Bernard McGinn, Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology and of the History of Christianity, University of Chicago.
William Prosser, Artist and Fellow of the Centre for Christianity and Culture, Regent’s Park College, Oxford.

We welcome submissions for 20-minute papers and proposals for sessions of three 20-minute papers.

Topics may include, but are by no means confined to:
  • The interplay between mysticism and art, both visual and textual.
  • Art (visual, textual or both) as a means of communicating that which is hard to articulate.
  • Apophasis.
  • Theorisations of art and beauty and how these relate to notions of mysticism.
  • Transformative visions and the therapeutic effect of ‘seeing as’.
  • Medieval and modern ideas on optics, seeing and contemplation/mysticism.
  • The intersection between visual and textual art.
  • The role of illuminations and annotations in medieval manuscripts.
  • Ekphrasis.
Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words to the conference organisers by 1st September 2015.

We warmly welcome papers from graduate students.

We also warmly welcome contributions from artists outside of academia. For more information about contributing as an artist please contact Tom de Freston

For further information please refer to