In recent years, the new importance attributed to the biographies of objects and their global circulation has drawn increasing attention to the phenomenon of their physical transportation – in other words, to the complex set and modes of actions required to move an object from the point of creation to its final destination.
Inspired by this growing body of scholarship, a workshop will be held at the Norwegian Institute in Rome (31 May – 1 June 2023) with the aim of developing new tools to perceive, measure or interpret the movement of things, by looking specifically at the way physical transportation has been described, inspected, and dissected in the early modern sources.
The materials under scrutiny here may take different forms, from diaries, letters, and other prosopographical accounts recording movement in its making; to archival materials that track unusual patterns of transportation; to letters, treatises, and even guides or handbooks reporting ex post facto descriptions of mobility.
This workshop intends to probe this vast collection of sources in order to tease out how mobility was described and conceptualised, surveyed, and explored in the long early modern period (approximately from 1350 to 1800), before the rise of modern logistics.
In short, it is interested in the narrative potential of mobility: in how describing movement ‘makes a good story’.
Potential topics include, but are not limited to:
- Episodes of transportation recorded in archival materials, with special regard to the logistical demands and expenses encountered by artists in moving objects from the artistic workshop to the final destination.
- Diaries and letters of artists and patrons describing physical transportation of objects.
- Written sources that emphasise the miraculous, divine components of transportation.
- 18th century popularisation of movement in the so-called ‘circulation narrative’ or ‘IT narratives’, which tells the story of inanimate objects’ exchange and movement from place to place.
- Treatises and technical accounts describing the logistical operations of transportation.
Travel expenses and participation will be covered.