London-Paris Romanticism Seminar: Romantic Paper Arts, Online International Panel, Friday 20 November 2020

The next seminar in the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar series is an international panel on Romantic Paper Arts which will take place via Zoom on Friday 20 November 2020 at 17.30-19.30 London time (GMT). As our guest speakers for this special interdisciplinary event, we are delighted to welcome two distinguished international scholars, Heather Hyde Minor, Professor of Art History at the University of Notre Dame, who will speak on Piranesi’s Trash; and Catriona MacLeod, Professor in Germanic Studies at the University of Chicago, whose talk is entitled The Violent Potency of Paper: Romantic Scherenschnitte. Abstracts appear below. The two illustrated talks will be followed by a discussion in which questions from the audience are invited. The panel will be chaired by Luisa Calè (Birkbeck, University of London).

The seminar is free and open to everyone, including postgraduates and members of the public. Prior registration is necessary. To reserve your free place via the Institute of English Studies website, click here. When you register, you will be provided with a Zoom link and details of how to join the online forum. Whether you wish to contribute or simply to listen in, you are more than welcome.

Heather Hyde Minor is professor of art history at the University of Notre Dame. Her books include The Culture of Architecture in Enlightenment Rome (2010), Piranesi’s Lost Words (2015), and Piranesi Unbound, which she wrote with Carolyn Yerkes.  She is currently writing an intellectual biography of Piranesi and at work on an exhibition about the artist slated to open at Princeton University in September 2021. Her next book will take up Johann Joachim Winckelmann as the inventor of the modern discipline of art history, as well as his careers as a spy, censor, and a Roman.

Catriona MacLeod is Frank Curtis Springer and Gertrude Melcher Springer Professor in the College and the Department of Germanic Studies at the University of Chicago, where she is also affiliated with Art History. She is the author of Embodying Ambiguity: Androgyny and Aesthetics from Winckelmann to Keller (1998). Her most recent book, Fugitive Objects: Literature and Sculpture in the German Nineteenth Century (2014), was awarded the Jean-Pierre Barricelli Prize for best book in Romanticism Studies. Her current book project, Romantic Scraps: Cutouts, Collages, and Inkblots, explores how Romantic authors and visual artists cut, glue, stain, and recycle paper; generating paper cuts, collages, and ink blot poems in profusion, and combining them in what are for their time striking new hybrid forms. She is co-editor of Word & Image and current President of the Goethe Society of North America.


Piranesi’s Trash

Giovanni Battista Piranesi kept a scrap paper pile in his studio. In his hands, wastepaper became designs for prints, a way to record the action in his workshop, and much more. Piranesi’s scratch paper reveals not only a fiercely talented artist at work but a book that went missing, one that he never released for sale.  In this talk, we will make our way through the clues some of these recycled sheets present to find this lost volume. (Heather Hyde Minor)

The Violent Potency of Paper: Romantic Scherenschnitte

One of the Athenäum Fragments offers a profile of Friedrich Schlegel as a genial cutter of silhouettes, embedding the materiality of paper within a conceptual discourse of fragments. However, papercuts have generally been relegated to the margins of Romanticism. My talk will highlight what I see as the critical potency of paper and scissors via a brother and sister who theorized and crafted papercuts: Karl Varnhagen von Ense and Rosa Maria Assing. It also identifies a tension between what Varnhagen von Ense describes as an ephemeral and “fluttering” salon art, and what emerges in his writing as an occult, violent practice directed against women. (Catriona MacLeod)