HomeImages of the courtier in Northern European art, 1500-1700

HomeImages of the courtier in Northern European art, 1500-1700

*  *  *

Published on Wednesday, May 14, 2014


This panel will address the image of the courtier in the art and architecture of northern European court societies – Germanic countries, Flanders, United Provinces, France and England. While the subject has been widely studied in Italian art history, notably around the key figure of Baldassare Castiglione, it has been less investigated in the study of Northern European art of the Early modern period. The figure of the courtier inspired rich and often contrasting interpretations in Northern European court societies. While perpetuating traditional court culture in France and Flanders, the courtier in England and the Germanic countries embraced emerging social paradigms of the Protestant reform. In societies lacking an official court such as the United-Provinces, the figure of the courtier was largely redefined. Discussions will focus on symbolic forms of the courtier in the visual arts as well as in other disciplines to which the notion of decorum is central such as architecture and the decorative arts.



L’image du courtisan a été fréquemment étudiée par les historiens de l’art italien, notamment autour de la figure de Baldassare Castiglione. Elle a été, en revanche, singulièrement moins traitée en relation avec les pays d’Europe septentrionale – pays germaniques, Flandres, Provinces-Unies, France, Angleterre. À l’occasion de la rencontre de la RSA à Berlin (2015), nous souhaiterions aborder cette question en proposant une comparaison des théories et des pratiques, des rituels sociaux et religieux, des stratégies politiques et institutionnelles ou des mécanismes d’appartenance et de distinction élitaire. Il s’agira de reconstituer l’imaginaire du courtisan, qui suscite l’émulation entre les espaces curiaux traditionnels (France, Flandres), encourage de nouvelles formes de sociabilités (pays germaniques, Angleterre) ou est reformulé par des sociétés dénuées de cours officielles (Sept-Provinces). L’accent sera mis sur l’examen des formes symboliques prises par cet imaginaire dans les arts visuels (allégories, emblèmes, etc.) mais aussi dans l’architecture et le décor, où la notion de convenance est prépondérante. Au sein de sociétés de cour où être et apparaître sont indissociables, et dont les membres doivent, tout à la fois, faire corps et se distinguer, l’image du courtisan peut-elle renforcer ou menacer l’unité du groupe ? Quelles stratégies d’imitation ou de distinction sont mises en place par le courtisan ? Comment les théories s’articulent-elles aux pratiques : par description ou prescription ? Et quels rôles la figure singulière de l’artiste-courtisan joue-t-elle dans cette interaction?


What’s in a proposal:

Session title; session keywords; a-v requests; a chair; for each paper presenter you will submit apaper title; abstract (150-word maximum); keywords; and a one-page curriculum vitae (300-word maximum). Individual paper proposals (papers submitted not as part of a session) submit a paper title; abstract (150-word maximum); keywords; and a one-page curriculum vitae (300-word maximum). 

Who may present at an RSA conference: RSA welcomes sessions that present the scholarship of members at various stages of their career. Each session must include at least one speaker who has already received the terminal degree in the field (in the majority of cases this is a PhD). Graduate students should be in candidacy and are invited to speak on topics directly related to a dissertation for which the major research has already been done. They should not present term papers or incipient dissertation research. Sessions composed entirely of predoctoral speakers, or sessions that include precandidates, will not be considered for inclusion in the program. 

What is the typical session format: Most sessions are composed of three 20-minute papers. This leaves time in the 90-minute session for formal responses or for questions from the audience. Each session must have a chair who is not giving a paper in the session; a respondent is optional. Other formats, such as roundtable discussions, are allowed; they too must have a chair who stands outside the discussion and moderates it. 

Submitting Proposals

Who may submit sessions or individual papers?

· RSA Discipline Representatives may submit proposals for up to five sessions. Since they will have vetted the proposals for quality and coherence, these proposals are accepted without further review.

· RSA Associated Organizations may also vet and submit proposals through their official representatives. Since these representatives will have vetted the proposals for quality and coherence, these proposals are also accepted without further review.

· Individuals may also propose up to five sessions, which will be vetted by the Program Committee both for quality of papers and coherence of the session. They should simultaneously propose a chair who is not presenting in the session.

· Individuals may submit proposals for independent papers; these will be vetted by the Program Committee and then formed into compatible sessions. An individual may submit exactly one paper for consideration and may present exactly one paper in a single session at any annual meeting. Individuals who submit more than one paper proposal will be asked to withdraw one of them before the submissions are reviewed by the Program Committee.

What materials do I need to submit a proposal?

Each paper proposal – whether submitted as an individual paper or as part of a session – must include: paper title;abstract (150-word maximum); keywords; and a one-page curriculum vitae (300-word maximum). Chairs, organizers, and respondents do not submit a curriculum vitae.

Abstract: A good abstract will state the topic and argument and will inform specialists in the field of what is new about the research. Generalities known to everyone, or research that a scholar intends to do but has not yet begun, are not appropriate. Relevant information, e.g. the presentation of a newly discovered manuscript or work of art, should be included. Roundtable submissions submit a single 150-word session abstract. Regular sessions do not submit a separate session abstract, but only the abstracts of each paper. Individuals and session organizers are asked to edit abstracts as they'd like them to appear in the online program and conference app. Starting this year, abstracts will not appear in the printed program. RSA will edit paper titles and session titles for correctness and consistency.

CV: please paste a one-page cv (not a prose bio) into the text box provided. Do not worry about formatting losses; the cv is used for review only. It should include degrees awarded; institutional affiliation; major publications.

Each submission must select a general discipline area that best fits the submission, from among History, Art History, Literature, and Other. Please select Other only if the session falls outside of these general areas. This is used for review only.

Each submission may indicate its audio-visual needs. RSA is charged for all a-v services, so please only request a-v you are certain you will need.

Concatenated sessions on a single theme or in honor of a single scholar are allowed, normally in sequences of two or three sessions, but with a maximum of five. The principle behind this rule is that participants should be able to attend the meeting as a whole and not be sequestered in a conference-within-the-conference. Each RSA panel, even one in such a chain, must have its own integrity; many members will be able to attend only one of these sessions, so each session in such a chain must be able to stand alone. To conclude a chain of sessions with a roundtable that relates back to the previous sessions may work well for a small conference, but is not suitable for RSA. Such sessions are unlikely to be accepted.

A series of sessions on a theme must be submitted as separate, organized sessions. A series of sessions should be named according to the following scheme: Michelangelo in Florence I, Michelangelo in Florence II, Michelangelo in Florence III. This will ensure that they are reviewed and scheduled as a series, one following the next.

Other Guidelines for Submissions

All sessions, including roundtables, must have a chair; a respondent is optional.

Roundtables must have an organizer, a chair, and discussants.

An individual may not serve as chair or respondent in a panel in which he or she is a presenter.

An individual may serve as chair and respondent of the same panel.

An individual may chair no more than three sessions.

An individual may present a paper in a panel session and also participate as a discussant in a roundtable session, but no individual may propose or present more than one paper per conference.

RSA encourages presenters to submit their abstracts and to give their talks in English when possible, in order to ensure the broadest potential audience for the work being presented. Papers may be given in German for the Berlin conference, and in other languages as appropriate. It is assumed that papers will be delivered in the language in which the abstract is submitted. 

Submitting Your Session Online

If you organize a session, you are responsible for submitting it to RSA by the submission deadline.

If you respond to an individual’s call for papers in organizing a session, please remember that your paper is submitted only when your organizer submits the session online. Please note that for sessions organized by individuals other than Associate Organization Representatives and Discipline Representatives, there are two stages in the submission and acceptance process. First, your paper is accepted by a session organizer. The session is then submitted to RSA by the session organizer. Next, the session must be accepted to the conference by the RSA Program Committee.

Session organizers are asked to inform individuals before the submission deadline if they are accepting their papers or not. Only the organizer who submits the session receives a confirmation notice of submission. Paper authors do not receive a notice until a decision has been made by the Program Committee later in the summer.

If a paper is being submitted by an organizer as part of a session, it should not be submitted as an individual proposal by its author.

When you submit the session, you will be asked to select the session participants from a list of the names in our database; that list includes current members, expired members, and Conference Submitters. You may add a name that is missing at that time. Before adding someone, please make sure you have searched correctly for that person’s last name, including any accent marks and being mindful of hyphenated last names, etc. If you have determined that an individual is not in the system, you need the person’s email address and affiliation in order to add them, and by doing so you sign them up as a Conference Submitter (if you do this for a session participant, that person should NOT sign up again later). If you sign up someone else in this way, please be sure that the email address you provide is valid. Otherwise your panelists will fail to receive important communications from RSA about conference acceptance and registration.

Sponsored Sessions: Associate Organizations and Discipline Representatives

Sessions sponsored by Associate Organizations and Discipline Representatives will be reviewed by the Program Committee to ensure that they comply with these guidelines. You may organize your session by inviting particular scholars or by a call for papers. While your participants need not be limited to members of your organization or discipline group in order to fill out a session, most speakers should be members.

Each session must include at least one speaker who has already received the terminal degree in the field (in the majority of cases this is a PhD). Graduate students should be in candidacy and are invited to speak on topics directly related to a dissertation for which the major research has already been done. They should not present term papers or incipient dissertation research. Sessions composed entirely of predoctoral speakers, or sessions that include precandidates, will not be considered for inclusion in the program. 

Discipline Representatives and the authorized representatives of Associate Organizations may submit up to five sponsored sessions. Your membership must be current in order to submit sponsored sessions. No matter who actually organizes the sessions for your organization or discipline, only the official RSA representative may submit them. The submission software will only recognize that person’s RSA login. If you are an authorized individual, you will be authorized to submit in the Discipline Representative / Associate Organization menu; that is the menu you must use for your sponsored sessions. It will allow you to submit sessions only and only for your organization or discipline, and will ensure that your sponsored sessions are identified properly. 


You do not need to be a member to submit a proposal, but all accepted conference participants must become members, in addition to registering for the conference. In order to submit a proposal, you must be logged in to the RSA site as a current member or a Conference Submitter.

If you are not a member, you are welcome to join. All memberships are for the calendar year and expire on December 31. Should you prefer not to join now, you must sign up as a Conference Submitter so that your contact information is recorded in the system. To do so: from the lefthand menu on the RSA website go to Membership > Join RSA. There you can sign up as a Conference Submitter. This is a temporary membership type for submission purposes only. It has no charge, and confers no membership privileges. Important: If you are a current member or an expired member, please do not sign up as a Conference Submitter, as this will result in a duplicate account; instead, please contact rsa@rsa.org for assistance.

To submit a proposal, you must be a current member or a Conference Submitter and you must be able to sign in to your account. All the participants in your session must be current members, expired members, or Conference Submitters. Use the Member Search on our website to check the membership status of people in a panel you are organizing. Conference Submitters will not appear in this list because they are not regular members of RSA. However, people who have registered as Conference Submitters will appear on the list of names available in the submission module once you log in to submit your session. Please ask those members of your session to sign up as a Conference Submitter before you submit the session.

Conference Submitters and expired members who are accepted to the conference must renew their membership for the year of the conference. Membership for 2015 will be available on and after November 1, 2014. 

Travel Grants

RSA will offer a limited number of travel grants to assist speakers who will be traveling to Berlin from outside Europe. These grants are competitive, not guaranteed; the average award is $500. Funding comes from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the Renaissance Society of America.

Who may apply?

Authors of papers in art history are eligible for Kress grants; they are awarded based on demonstrated need to art historians who lack sufficient travel funds. RSA travel grants are awarded in all disciplines. They support graduate students as well as degree holders without either a tenured or tenure-track position. Application is limited to scholars presenting their research; session organizers, chairs, respondents, or roundtable participants will not be considered for funding.

What application materials are required?

Applicants submit a 100-word statement of need. The applicant’s paper proposal and curriculum vitae (submitted separately as an individual proposal or as part of a panel submission) will be reviewed along with the statement of need.

What is the deadline?

The deadline to apply for travel grants is the same as the general submission deadline:

2 June 2014.

When are grants awarded?

RSA committees will review all applications, and submit a list of Kress candidates to the Kress Foundation for further review. We aim to announce travel grant winners by November. 

Acceptance and Commitment

Announcements of acceptance will go out after the meeting of the Program Committee, in late summer. The program itself will then be organized, and will be available in early autumn for review and correction.

Accepted participants or their sponsoring institution/organization must plan to fund their own travel and lodging expenses in addition to the membership and conference fees. Only a limited number of small travel grants will be offered; deadline is the same as the submission of proposals. The registration fee is used to pay for conference facilities and events, audio-visual expenses, receptions, printed and electronic program materials, and the year-round staffing needed to produce the conference. Because these expenses are incurred all year long, the registration fee is not refundable.

Acceptance to the conference is a commitment to attend. If you are accepted to the conference but find that you are in fact unable to participate, you are obliged to inform both the organizer of your session and RSA as soon as possible, and no later than the registration deadline. To withdraw from the conference after the registration deadline, except in cases of emergency, is discourteous to your colleagues and is considered unacceptable by RSA.

Program committee

  • Marie Theres Stauffer, University of Genève
  • Jan Blanc, University of Genève


  • Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany


  • Monday, June 02, 2014


  • image, courtier, art, architecture, northern European, court society


  • Jan Blanc
    courriel : jan [dot] blanc [at] unige [dot] ch
  • Marie Theres Stauffer
    courriel : maria [dot] stauffer [at] unige [dot] ch

Information source

  • Bérangère Poulain
    courriel : berangere [dot] poulain [at] unige [dot] ch


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Images of the courtier in Northern European art, 1500-1700 », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, May 14, 2014, https://calenda.org/288204

Archive this announcement

  • Google Agenda
  • iCal
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search