Specular Reflections: The Mirror in Medieval and Early Modern Culture

Early Romance Studies Research Cluster, along with the Committee for
Medieval Studies at the University of British Columbia, solicits
contributions for the 40th Annual UBC Medieval Workshop, to be held on
March 16-17, 2012. The conference will be held at Green College on the
beautiful UBC campus in Vancouver, Canada.

Margot Schmidt suggests in the Dictionnaire de spiritualité, the
mirror?s multiple uses as an object translate into highly diversified
symbolic functions. Thus, while they have long been associated with
scientific exploration, knowledge, and contemplation, owing largely to
analogies with their instrumental use?analogies that lead to the book as
speculum, as explored by Herbert Grabes, for example?reflective
surfaces also function as metaphors for the illusory nature of
representation. They can create false, shadowy, or deformed images of
earthly reality, as suggested both by the ubiquitous Ovidian theme of
Narcissus at the fountain and the Pauline per speculum in aenigmate.
The contradictory uses of mirrors in iconography mean they can stand as
figures of virtue or vice, depending on whether they accompany Prudence
or Venus, or represent Mary« the speculum sine macula »or Eve. Mirrors
are not only ambivalent, but also Janus-like: whether examined as
objects, in their instrumental, decorative, or other functions, or as
visual or textual figures, mirrors have fascinated humankind, not least
because they seem to serve as a kind of threshold phenomenon allowing
for the contemplation of inner and outer worlds, as well as the
otherworldly. While these thresholds promise access to other
worlds’earthly, imaginary, or divine?they are also suggestive of the
limitations of human perception, knowledge, and wisdom.

are looking for papers dealing with any aspect of ?specular
reflections’ through text, image, music or any branch of learning,
especially those that engage with the paradoxical ways mirror images are
used in all periods, places, and disciplines from Late Antiquity to the
Early Modern Period. Areas of interest might include, but are in no
way limited to: literature, translation, history, art history,
philosophy, science and optics, musicology, etc.

are invited for 20-minute papers and full panels (three papers and a
chair). Selected papers from the workshop will be collected as part of a
thematic volume of proceedings to be published with a major scholarly
press. Proposals (250 words) for papers and panels should be sent by
August 1, 2011 to:

Nancy Frelick, Chantal Phan, or Juliet O?Brien
Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies
University of British Columbia
797-1873 East Mall
Vancouver BC V6T 1Z1

For further details and updated information check: http://ubc2012medieval.blogspot.com