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JLGC 03: Death. Absence, Anxiety and Aesthetics

As a ubiquitous phenomenon, the end of human life continues to invite our reflection and artistic engagement, even though or precisely because it continuously escapes our grasp. Death, despite attempts to capture it in images, words, objects, and structures, remains the great unknown.

Linda Bleijenberg, Odile Bodde and Jenneka Janzen, eds.
01 February 2015
Open Access download (PDF)

The Journal’s second issue, Death: Ritual, Representation, and Remembrance, combined articles about coping with death through private or intimate rituals and public or national expressions in a variety of both eastern and western cultures. The third issue of the Journal of the LUCAS Graduate Conference, titled Death: Absence, Anxiety, and Aesthetics, tackles the subject of death as it is represented in an array of early modern and contemporary visual arts, architecture, and literature.

This collection of five articles, written by international early-career scholars from various research backgrounds, studies a diverse range of media. Reaching across time from the early-modern Mughal Empire through to the present day, this issue includes investigations of hospice-based portrait photography, real and staged crime scene images, public memorial architecture and monuments, artistic studies of a dying courtier, and a Tolstoy novella. While offering diverse insights tied to the themes of absence, anxiety, and aesthetics, these articles illustrate how humankind devotes a considerable part of our cultural production to grappling with death and dying.

Series editor and editorial board

Linda Bleijenberg

A founding member of the Journal and editor-in-chief of its second issue, Linda Bleijenberg (LUCAS) continues to safeguard its quality as the JLGC series editor. Having set up the first issue’s layout, website and style sheet, she concentrated on streamlining the JLGC editing process while serving as editor-in-chief for the second issue. As series editor, she will build on her experience with the Journal to further improve its organization. Her own PhD research focuses on the relationship between the concept of the primitive hut, as it emerged in the architectural theory of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and broader cultural phenomena such as primitivism and the eighteenth century fascination with the origins of man, civilization, and a variety of cultural practices.

Odile Bodde

As a co-organizer of the second LUCAS Graduate Conference, Odile Bodde joined the Journal’s editorial board for its second and third editions. Her PhD research analyzes the politics and aesthetics of representations of corporeal violence, as shown in contemporary American and European cinema with the ‘war on terror’ as a theme. Its aim is to unravel normative strategies and ideologies surrounding the portrayal of violence, the body, trauma, subjectivity, and agency; to probe the narratives’ multi-faceted strategies of resistance against these very ideologies and sensibilities; and to explore how the images affect and co-constitute the spectator’s subjectivity and self-understanding. Her research is part of the NWO-funded interdisciplinary programme What can the humanities contribute to our practical self-understanding? taking place jointly at Utrecht University, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Leiden University.

Jenneka Janzen

Returning to the editorial board as an editor-in-chief, Jenneka Janzen brings a broad interdisciplinary background in material, cultural, and social histories of northwestern Europe from the early Middle Ages through the early Renaissance. She is currently preparing her PhD dissertation as a member of the project Turning Over a New Leaf: Manuscript Innovation in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance. Called Written Culture at Ter Duinen: Cistercian Monks and their Books, 1140-1250, her research combines traditional codicological and palaeographical expertise with digital humanities methods to uncover how these monks organized, interpreted, and transmitted knowledge, and how, cooperating within their own community and within their broader monastic network, they participated in the contemporary intellectual movements. She is also a regular contributor to the Medieval Fragments blog.

Stephanie Glickman

A specialist in early modern Northern European art, Stephanie Glickman conducts PhD research as a Kress Institutional Fellow at Leiden University. Her PhD research investigates paintings, prints, and other cultural artefacts that were commissioned and collected in the seventeenth century by Holland's most prominent tradesmen: officers of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). She examines the VOC’s pictorial strategies of corporate self-representation and an abiding concern of VOC patronage: the cultivation of appearances of authority, control, and ownership, which she characterizes as the “optics of possession.” Her research further articulates how the VOC’s cultural production was not only reflective but also constitutive of Dutch aesthetic and economic values.

Frederik Knegtel

Frederik Knegtel received his Master’s degree from Leiden University in Art and Literature, specializing in French art and architecture from 1600 to 1800. In December 2012, he co-organized the LUCAS-conference Presence and Agency: Rhetoric, Aesthetics and the Experience of Art. In February 2014, he joined the European Research Council-funded project Elevated Minds. The Sublime in the Public Arts in Seventeenth-Century Paris and Amsterdam. His PhD research focuses on the role of the sublime in seventeenth-century Parisian architecture. In early modern France, the sublime began to transcend its original rhetorical function and became increasingly used as an aesthetic category. His investigation examines not only the contemporary Parisian network of scholars, clerics, politicians, and architects who read treatises on the sublime, but also focuses on the contemporary reactions elicited by overwhelming and magnificent buildings and spaces.

Heribert Korte

Heribert Korte is founder, owner and communication strategist at Enzodus bv. He is also a lecturer at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. His PhD project concentrates on the influence of art on À la recherche du temps perdu, the literary cathedral and lifework of Marcel Proust (1871-1922). Proust’s literature ‘translates’ art, especially painting and music, to diminish boundaries between literature and other arts. A key lies in the painting View on Delft from the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675). When Proust saw this painting in 1902, he recognized that Vermeer was capable of capturing the eternal in a temporary moment, like a photo. He realized that Vermeer transferred his imagination into a work of art. From that moment on, the View on Delft is a source of inspiration for the poetics of Proust: the imagination of the artist which transforms the daily reality into transcendence, in Proust’s own words, ‘l'extra-temporalité’.

David Louwrier

David Louwrier graduated in Life Science and Technology (biotechnology) at the Technical University of Delft, and started his interdisciplinary PhD project in 2011 within the BioSolar Cells consortium. His project aims to create an open space for public discussion about the implications of a biobased society. The project explores a new way of engaging the public in addressing questions raised by BioSolar Cells that concern society at large, beyond the realms of scientific research or industrial production, with bio-artistic probes for debate. One of David’s roles is to work in the lab with artists and analyze both the social and the molecular interactions. The art works and interactive artistic performances are presented and discussed in public events with the objective of shaping ethical guidelines, and provide input to the PhD thesis. David co-organized the second edition of the LUCAS graduate conference.

Sara Polak

Sara Polak's PhD project discusses Franklin D. Roosevelt as a cultural icon in American remembrance. She is fascinated by the dynamic process of image-making and the genesis and development of cultural memory. How do stories come into existence and how do they contribute to who we are, as groups and as individuals? Sara has investigated these issues as lecturer in American History at the University of Amsterdam, as a writer of life narratives and as a funeral director. She was guest editor for Biografie Bulletin’s special issue about life narratives, initiator and editor of Meerstemmig verleden, verhalen over het Nederlandse slavernijverleden (KIT Publishers, 2011), and has published articles about Roosevelt in cultural memory. Sara writes about her PhD project at www.sarapolak.nl. Alongside the PhD, she is lecturer in modern English literature at the English Department of Leiden University.


The Journal of the LUCAS Graduate Conference was designed to be downloaded in its entirety and read either as an eBook or on screen, both preferable in double page view. You can access a PDF of the full Journal via the first link in the overview below. It is also possible to download individual parts of the Journal, which you can find listed following the link to the full PDF.

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Get it at Leiden Open Access: https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/handle/1887/31500

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