The Talisman: A Critical Genealogy is part of the College Art Association 103rd Annual Conference, which will take place on  February 11-14, 2015 in New York City.

The word “talisman,” like “totem” and “fetish,” has traditionally implied a non-aesthetic form of reception, according to which the object is more interesting for what it does than for what it represents or how it looks. This panel aims to move beyond standard claims about agency, and to lend the term “talisman” an analytically effective meaning derived from, but not limited to, its emic fields of reference (e.g. Greek “telesma”, Arabic “tilsam”). Can the talisman be understood as a site where efficacy, representation, and aesthetics meet? Treatises on talismans prescribe astronomical conditions that must pertain at the moment of facture, the materials to be used, and the texts to be recited. The talisman thus stands at the intersection of multiple systems of knowledge and troubles basic assumptions regarding the relationship between art and reality. By investigating this nexus, the event’s organizers hope to reactivate the talisman as an engine of critical discourse. Historiographical, methodological, and historical contributions are welcome.

Session organizers: Benjamin Anderson, Cornell University, [email protected]; and Yael Rice, Amherst College, [email protected]

The deadline to submit abstracts is May 9, 2014.

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