Academic Session 22: Warwick 2011

AAH Annual Conference 2011
31 March – 2 April, University of Warwick

Pageantry and the Allegorical Tradition

Session Convenor:

Ariel Samuel Plotek, San Diego Museum of Art,

Conceived in rhetorical terms as an extended metaphor, a mode of speech in which one thing stands for another, allegory has always invited interpretation. This session
explores the relationship between allegory and pageantry, from the Middle Ages to the Modern era. Associated with both secular and religious rituals, the Medieval pageant dressed-out its allegorical processions with costumed performers, wheeled floats, and other forms of mobile scenery. Alongside the literal, emblematic logic of these programs, the civic pageant was often possessed of a complex allegorical meaning.
Drawing on literary antecedents and ancient myths, these narratives also involved the intersection of performance and poetics in a publicly enacted dialog. Looking back to the seasonal holidays and saints’ days of the late Middle Ages, the pageant movement in England (closely tied to the cause of female suffrage) staged
fantastical festivals and processions at the turn of the century. In the field of state-sponsored propaganda, the organisers of France’s revolutionary festivals (beginning
with no less a pageant master than Jacques-Louis David) fashioned their own ephemeral monuments: plaster personifications and papier-maché floats. In contrast to the epic allegories of academic painting, these carefully choreographed performances also involve time, both in terms of duration (the limited life of the ceremony) and in relation to space (the path of the procession). This session seeks papers on the art of pageantry, and its underlying allegorical structures.

Please send your paper proposal to the session convenor(s)