Emotion and Subjectivity in the Art and Architecture of Early Modern Muslim Empires


The interconnected histories of the Persophone empires of the early modern Muslim world have been a subject of historical inquiry for several years.  Works of art and architecture served to both unify these diverse and multi-confessional sites, as well as to distinguish them. The 15th century onward is often defined by new subjectivities in the literary and visual arts, from the composition of autobiographies to an emphasis on verisimilitude and portraiture. New technologies affected architectural production, and a broadening social sphere changed the way in which urban spaces were described and experienced. This symposium builds on the comparative framework of earlier studies, to focus on the themes of expression and emotion, as forms of artistic agency in the early modern Muslim world. They may be seen in the rise in status of architects, the self-fashioning of artists, the development of public spaces, as well as new literary genres that focus on the individual subject and his or her place in the world.  How do the arts participate in the changing subjectivities wrought by early modernity?  What formal or aesthetic devices come together to represent the knowledge conveyed through travel and contact? Can one look to Europe and China for clues to understanding the political and intellectual trends that gave rise to new forms of urbanism, architecture, and the visual arts? The goal of this two-day symposium is to invite scholars of early modern Muslim empires to speculate on these issues, and to provide a forum for conversation through diverse, but interconnected media and histories.