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CFP: Moving Image as a Means of Documenting and Promoting Byzantine and Medieval Culture

Type: Call for Papers
Date: --
49th International Congress on Medieval Studies
Kalamazoo, May 8-11, 2014

Call for Papers for a Panel Discussion:
Moving Image as a Means of Documenting and Promoting Byzantine and Medieval Culture

Deadline: September 15, 2013

This panel aims to engage in a discussion about the use of moving images in fieldwork projects and how the medium was used to document and promote Byzantine and Medieval art. By conducting a comparison between the moving image collection held by the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA) of Dumbarton Oaks and other similar holdings in other institutions, we aim to explore their similarities and differences; understand the motivations of using this medium; and illustrate the cinematic style employed in these film collections.

As a case study, this panel discussion aims to introduce ICFA's leading protagonist Thomas Whittemore and the unique collection of moving images by the Byzantine Institute, a non-profit organization established in 1930 by Whittemore to document their fieldwork activities, including restoration and conservation. To understand the Institute's mission, we need to examine the stylistic differences between its first film documentation of the Red Sea Monasteries in Egypt, filmed in black-and-white, and the two most important monuments of Byzantine culture, Hagia Sophia and Kariye Camii in Istanbul, Turkey. The former illustrates a traditional style of film documentation for archaeological excavations with an anthropological interest, while the latter, filmed in color as early as 1936 to 1948, displays a more formal and intimate approach towards the monuments. They were instrumental for the promotion of the Institute's goal to capture the quality and splendor of Byzantine mosaics and also illustrate the early techniques of restoration and conservation, leaving an indispensable document of the methods employed.

Our questions for this panel discussion include: What were the initial motivations to use moving images in the documentation of fieldwork activities? Was it solely a financial matter or can moving images of fieldwork projects transmit a different message than still photography? Are the decisions (e.g., color film vs. black-and-white film) dependent on the subject being captured or are they based on the cinematographer's vision? And finally, what role did the films play for the reception of Medieval and Byzantine art?

We welcome proposals for 15-minute presentations from archivists, curators, conservators, historians, art historians, and archaeologists working with relevant material to discuss the topics related to the use of moving images as a means of documenting and promoting Byzantine and Medieval culture.

For consideration, please submit a one-page abstract, a CV, and the participant informaton form (found here: to the panel organizers: ICFA Archivist Rona Razon ( and ICFA Byzantine Research Associate Fani Gargova ( by September 15, 2013.