International Conference ‘The Icon as Cultural Model: Past, Present and Future’
On Thursday 25th and Friday 26th of January 2018 the Humanities Department of the Open University the Netherlands organizes the international conference ‘The Icon as Cultural Model: Past, Present and Future’. The conference takes place at Amsterdam and is supported by NICA (Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis).

Journalists, artists and scholars, among others, tend to refer to iconic events or images from the past in order to better understand present-day developments. In this respect, the icon functions as a model that generates cultural meaning by connecting past and present. But the icon not only shapes our (collective) image of the present, nor does it merely re-evaluate our image of the past. It also opens up potential scenarios for the future – be it brilliant or gloomy.

The conference ‘The Icon as Cultural Model’ brings together scholars from various disciplines such as art history, literary studies, media studies, philosophy and history, to stimulate interdisciplinary reflection on how the study of cultural icons may contribute to our understanding of the dynamics of culture in general.

How do specific historical events, persons or places become iconic? How do artifacts such as novels, paintings, sculptures, and films construct iconic images of the past and/or future? Who attributes power to the icon? How, why and by whom is its cultural meaning altered? And why at present does the search, and explication of, cultural models occurs to be highly relevant?

During this two-day conference we will be investigating these, and related questions to further our understanding of the diverse ways the icon has functioned and still functions as a cultural model.

See this website for more information on the keynote speakers, the program, location and how to register. If you have any questions, please contact Marieke Winkler via

You can also view the programme booklet for more information.

We hope to welcome you in January!

This conference is supported by NICA (Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis).