Call for Session at the 64th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, New Orleans

Beyond the traditional nexus of art, anatomy, and optics, Early Modern sources often suggest a broader, more complex interdisciplinary transfer of knowledge between art and medicine: Lorenzo Ghiberti, for example, recommended that artists know "medicine" in addition to "anatomy." One level of the relationship concerned both disciplines’ need to grasp the particularity of a given body in light of the universal. Physicians thus sought artists to produce color scales for use in diagnosis, just as artists utilized medical knowledge to sharpen their visual judgment. Another level concerned broader historical circumstances. Not only did artists and physicians share Saint Luke as a common patron; in Renaissance Florence, for example, they also belonged to the same guild, engaged in similar debates regarding their "liberal" status, and – arguably – conceived their histories in similar ways. What can we conclude about such multivalent relationships? For example, did the two disciplines’ commitment to the observation of particular phenomena engender inconsistencies with traditional doctrine that demanded a similar reckoning with status, authority, and history?

This panel investigates the relationship between medicine and art at all levels: the social position of practitioners, the exchange of theoretical and practical knowledge, the existence of shared nomenclature and concepts, and the latter’s tendency to generate shared modes of observation and description.

Please submit a title, abstract (150 words maximum) and a short CV (300 words) to the panel organizers Robert Brennan ( and Fabian Jonietz ( by May 30.

As per RSA guidelines, proposals must include the following: paper title (15-word maximum), abstract (150-word maximum), keywords, and a very brief curriculum vitae (300-word maximum). See