Conferences

Converting Natural Resources: Representations, Performances, Narratives

Date/Time
Friday, December 1, 2023–Saturday, December 2, 2023
9:00 am – 6:00 pm

Location
William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron Street

Karel van Mallery after Jan van der Straet, "The Introduction of the Silkworm," engraving, c. 1595

Conference organized by Elisa Antonietta Daniele, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles/University of Bologna and Bronwen Wilson, University of California, Los Angeles

Co-sponsored by Making Green Worlds, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant, and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program.

This conference considers visual, textual, material, and performative engagement with processes of commodification in the early modern world. It explores how images, objects, and practices converted environments into resources, natural resources into lucrative items with commercial and tax-yielding significance, and destructive forces and forced labor into idealized landscapes and aestheticized bodies. The conference shifts the focus from the collection and display of phenomena in cabinets of curiosities, to the mechanisms and processes through which raw materials were converted into commodities.

The commodity, and the creation of its idea, following Karl Marx, develops independently of its creators and is capable of triggering transformations of humans and landscapes. While worldly goods is a familiar theme from studies, for example, of still lifes and of tulip mania, this conference fastens onto resources, such as minerals, pearls, metals, pigments, glass, ambergris, sugar, and paper, and onto ways in which these materials accrued new values and meanings. Such conversions of resources into products often entailed material, formal, and social transformations, which were often managed through diverse media, re-mediation, and repetition. Accordingly, “Converting Natural Resources” considers how new audiences and consumers for commodities were cultivated through narratives, images, and artifacts.

Speakers
Carrie Anderson, Middlebury College
Sonia Cavicchioli, University of Bologna
Taylor Clement, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
James Clifton, Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Kevin Dawson, University of California, Merced
Caroline Fowler, The Clark Art Institute
Matthew Gin, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Shannon Kelley, Fairfield University
Caroline LaPorte-Burns, McGill University
Bernadette Myers, New York University
Marissa Nicosia, The Pennsylvania State University – Abington College
Sylvia Tongyan Qiu, University of California, Los Angeles
Cambra Sklarz, University of California, Riverside
Angela Vanhaelen, McGill University


Friday, December 1, 2023

9:00 a.m.        
Bronwen Wilson, University of California, Los Angeles, and Elisa Antonietta Daniele, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles/University of Bologna
Introduction

9:15 a.m.
Session 1: Consumption
Chair: Bronwen Wilson, University of California, Los Angeles

Marissa Nicosia, The Pennsylvania State University – Abington College
“Recipes for Commodities: Seasoning Natural Resources in Renaissance England”

9:45 a.m.
Taylor Clement, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
“’The Profitable Arte’: Commodifying the English Garden”

10:15 a.m.
Discussion

10:45 a.m.
Coffee break

11:15 a.m.
Session 2: Ligneous Conversions
Chair: Victoria Addona, Université de Montréal

Shannon Kelley, Fairfield University
“Coloniality, Race, and Pine Trees”

11:45 a.m.
James Clifton, Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
“’Welcome to the world of glamorous woods!’: On the Commodification of Wood for the European Market in the 16th to 18th Centuries”

12:15 p.m.
Matthew Gin, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
“Producing Pageantry: An Audit of Materials and Processes in a Parisian Warehouse, c. 1753”

12:45 p.m.
Discussion

1:15 p.m.
Lunch

2:30 p.m.
Session 3: Submersion
Chair: Lyle Massey, University of California, Irvine

Bernadette Myers, New York University
“Coalface: Embodying Air Pollution in Early Modern Performance Culture”

3:00 p.m.
Kevin Dawson, University of California, Merced
“Waterscapes and Wet Bodies: Beach Culture in Atlantic Africa and the Diaspora, 1444—1888”

3:30 p.m.
Discussion

4:00 p.m.
Coffee break

4:15 p.m.
Session 4: Suppression
Chair: Stephanie Schrader, Getty Center

Caroline Fowler, The Clark Art Institute
“Rethinking Erasure in Frans Post’s Landscapes”

4:45 p.m.
Angela Vanhaelen, McGill University
“Oppositional Modalities of Being: Woman on a Beach in colonial Dutch Brazil”

5:15 p.m.
Discussion

6:00 p.m.
Conclusion

Saturday, December 2, 2023

9:00 a.m.
Session 5: Making Territories
Chair: Elisa Antonietta Daniele, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles/University of Bologna

Sonia Cavicchioli, University of Bologna
“’Nos Mutina effinxit’: Terracotta and the Shape of a Territory in Northern Italy (1400-1800)”

9:30 a.m.
Cambra Sklarz, University of California, Riverside
“The Artist in the Community: Art, Materials, and Domestic Labor in Early America”

10:00 a.m.
Discussion

10:30 a.m.
Coffee break

11:00 a.m.
Session 6: Unearthly Conversions
Chair: Rachel Weiss, University of California, Los Angeles

Carrie Anderson, Middlebury College
“Beads, Adornment, and Commodification in the Dutch Atlantic World”

11:30 a.m.
Caroline LaPorte-Burns, McGill University
“Up in a Puff of Smoke: A Salvaged Mother-of-Pearl Snuffbox and the Lessons of Shipwrecks for Early Modern Art History”

12:00 p.m.
Sylvia Tongyan Qiu, University of California, Los Angeles
“Out of the Water, Into the Sky: A Pearl-Inlaid Celestial Globe and the Limits of the Qing Cosmos”

12:30 p.m.
Discussion

1:15 p.m.
Conclusion


The conference is free to attend with advance registration, and will be held in-person at the Clark Library. Registration will close on Monday, November 27 at 5:00 p.m. Seating is limited at the Clark Library; walk-in registrants are welcome as space permits.


Image: Karel van Mallery after Jan van der Straet, “The Introduction of the Silkworm,” engraving, c. 1595. https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en (public domain)