HISTORICIDE AND REITERATION: Innovation in the sciences, humanities and the arts

Symposium, February 9-10, 2007 Faculty of Arts and Culture Maastricht University The Netherlands

This symposium wants to investigate the convergences and divergences between the sciences and the arts by taking our cue from the ways in which they position themselves vis-à-vis their past. It aims at a thorough evaluation of the contrast between historicide and reiteration as a potentially fruitful perspective on the interrelations between the three cultures. We propose the following levels of inquiry:

a. The actual practice of art and science. Do specific instances of scientific innovation corroborate or falsify the idea that the creative reappropriation of the past has nothing to contribute to scientific discovery? Is historicide in the arts confined to the occasional exception of the historical avant-garde, or does it constitute a more substantial part of aesthetic innovation? b. The prototypical images of art and science. Are they supposed to be reiterating or destroying their pasts, and how do such assumptions figure in the public self-fashioning of scientists, writers and artists? Do such attitudes toward the past also work internally as codes of proper artistic or scientific behaviour? If it would be the case that scientific innovation may be prone to reiteration as well, does this mean that scientists unwittingly reiterate the past and therefore cultivate a deluded self-image? Would a similar argument apply to the iconoclastic self-fashioning of avant-garde artists? c. The contents and products of art and science. How do views of the significance of the past relate to scientific theories, literary novels or the subject-matter of painting? Are scientific accounts of, say, the human life span or biological evolution more inclined towards linear, progressivist accounts than literary genres which also cover these domains such as the Bildungsroman or the regional novel?

This symposium invites contributions from the history and sociology of science, the history of art, the history of literature, literary theory, and philosophical aesthetics. A selection of the papers will be published in a peer-reviewed volume, to appear in the series Arts, Sciences and Cultures of Memory, edited by Kitty Zijlmans, Lies Wesseling and Robert Zwijnenberg (publisher: Equinox, London). If you are interested in contributing, please send a 300-word abstract before May 15, 2006 to: [email protected]. We will select the contributors to the symposium before July 1, 2006. You may subsequently be asked you to pre-circulate your paper before January 14, 2007. Please make sure your abstract contains the following items:

a. a concretely delineated case study b. a specification of the level of inquiry of your case study (a, b and/or c) c. an interdisciplinary scope: contributions that engage in a comparative analysis which crosses the borders between the ‘three cultures’ will be given priority.