mage: Reliquary bust of one of Saint Ursula’s virgins, anonymous, c. 1325 - c. 1349. Copyright Rijksmuseum.
Image: Reliquary bust of one of Saint Ursula’s virgins, anonymous, c. 1325 – c. 1349. Copyright Rijksmuseum.

Conveners: Charles Zika and Angela Hesson

‘Art’ wrote Susanne Langer ‘is the objectification of feeling.’  A century earlier, Paul Cezanne had made the more extravagant claim ‘A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.’  Although the impulse to define art in such succinct and finite terms might be deemed an essentially modern one, the wider notion of the inseparability of art and emotion, and the power of art to evoke strong feelings in viewers has a long history. In more recent times scholars have also begun to explore the role of material objects in human relationships through their power to evoke strong emotions. Artistic and non-artistic objects can generate desire and also violence, pride, belonging, devotion and disgust.

This collaboratory will consider the manifold ways in which art and objects depict, reflect, symbolise, communicate and regulate emotion in Europe in the period from c.1400 to c.1800, a period when objects of all kinds circulated widely and began to be systematically collected and displayed.  From so-called fine art such as painting and sculpture, to decorative art and all manner of objects, we will examine the role of emotion in shaping our conception of art and objects, and likewise, of art and objects in shaping our understanding of emotion.

Date: Tuesday 15 November to Wednesday 16 November 2016
Venue: Woodward Conference Centre, 10th floor, Melbourne Law (Building 106), 185 Pelham Street, Carlton VIC 3053
Contact: Ms Julie Davies (, 03 8344 5981
Registration: Online here.   


Confirmed speakers include:

Lisa Beaven (Art History, The University of Melbourne), Thomas Dixon (History, University of London), Stephanie Downes (Literature, The University of Melbourne), Elina Gertsman (Art History, Case Western Reserve University), Sasha Handley (History, The University of Manchester), Angela Hesson (Art History/Literature, The University of Melbourne), Matthew Martin (Curator, NGV), Shelley Perlove (Art History, The University of Michigan-Dearborn), Corine Schleif (Art History, Arizona State University), Gary Schwartz (Art History, Independent Scholar), Angela McShane (Victoria & Albert Museum/History, The University of Sheffield), Miya Tokumitsu (Art History, The University of Melbourne) and Charles Zika (History, The University of Melbourne).

Collaboratory dinner

Date: Wednesday 16 November 2016
Time: TBC once program is finalised
Venue: The Carlton Wine Room, 172-174 Faraday Street, Carlton VIC 3053
Cost: Full $80, concession $45, speaker (free)