This session explores the use and simulation of reflective surfaces in medieval and early modern works of art. In the Middle Ages, reflection often operated as a metaphor for imperfect vision (see: 1 Corinthians 13:12), while in the Renaissance, it came to encapsulate notions of naturalistic representation and artistic production broadly conceived. While we are interested in considering this historical distinction, in this session we especially seek to understand approaches to light and reflection that remain stable across the medieval and early modern eras through anthropological, ritual, scientific, theological, or literary approaches.

We invite proposals that examine objects and monuments that incorporate precious metals, mirrors, gems, and glass, as well as those that simulate the effects of these materials. How might inquiries into late medieval and early modern optical theories clarify such works of art? What do the perceived differences between light emanating directly from a radiant source and light reflected indirectly off a gleaming surface tell us about compositional strategies? What impact did natural lighting conditions have on the design of medieval and early modern monuments that incorporate glittering materials or mirrors? How might reflective surfaces have been deployed for apotropaic or ritual purposes? And finally, how might works of literature that invoke mirrors or reflection be brought into dialogue with the visual arts?

Please send all submissions directly to the session chairs by the August 14th deadline: Alexandra Letvin (Johns Hopkins University) at aletvin1[at] and Rachel Danford (Marshall University) at either rachel.danford[at] or danfordr[at]

Submissions should include the following four components:

  • 1. A completed session participation proposal form (located at the end of the CAA’s call for participation brochure).
  • a. Make sure your name appears EXACTLY as you would like it listed in the conference program and conference website.
  • b. Make sure your affiliation appears as the official, recognized name of your institution (you may not list multiple affiliations).
  • c. Make sure to include an active CAA Member ID (all participants must be current members through February 24, 2018; inactive or lapsed members will be pulled from participation on August 28, 2017).
  • 2. Paper/project abstract: maximum 250 words, in the form of a single paragraph.
  • a. Make sure your title and abstract appear EXACTLY as you would like them published in the conference program.
  • 3. Email or letter explaining your interest in the session, expertise in the topic, and availability during the conference.
  • 4. A shortened CV.