Call for Papers: Undergraduate Symposium on the Body

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on January 29, 2012

The Body in Visual Culture: An Undergraduate Student Symposium
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 4 May 2012

Proposals due by 1 April 2012

Keynote Speaker: Gregory Williams, Assistant Professor of Art History at Boston University and author of Permission to Laugh: Humor and Politics in Contemporary German Art (University of Chicago Press, 2012)

Bodies function as indicators of identity. A toned and muscular body indicates a laborer, or someone who is concerned with their health whereas a frail or emaciated body may indicate trauma or an eating disorder. An obese body could indicate sloth or illness, although historically it has been a sign of wealth and even beauty. A body plastered in tattoos could designate gall, a passionate form of expression, one who loves art, or one who has lost a lot of bets. Based on cultural “standards,” some bodies, such as those of women and minorities, have at times indicated inferiority, while others, such as those of Aryan men, have stood for superiority. However, the practice of identifying someone by their body is nothing more than assumption, which is rarely accurate in comparison to the way one defines their own identity. Throughout history, this disparity has resulted in detrimental action in society including stereotyping, discrimination, oppression, and in extreme cases, genocide.

The College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) Art History Club at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth seeks proposals for an undergraduate student symposium on the topic of the body in visual culture. We are interested in projects that address the role of the sexuality, oppression, gender, identity in the representation of the body as well as the transformation of the body at the hands of technology.

We invite papers from undergraduates as well as graduate students—in all categories of Art History and related fields, including BFA and MFA programs—which will comprise a broad range of methodologies and media (painting, installation, performance, film, video, digital media, novels, comic books, and so on). We also welcome proposals on the presentation of one’s creative artwork. Possible topics include but are not limited to the following:

-How do the body and identity inform one another? Are they separable or inextricable?
-How does something intangible (identity) become associated with something physical (body)?
-Does expression of identity manifest in the body or does the body in some way cause identity?
-How is the body used to express identity or some part of it? Why is this expression significant?
-Does the practice of identifying someone by the body affect personal identity? What are the results or changes due to this practice?
-How has the perception of the body changed over time, and for whom?
-What technologies participate in this transformation and how?

Please submit a 200-word abstract (for a 15-minute presentation) to umassdarh@yahoo.com by April 1st. All submissions must include your name, institution, and a titled description of your project. Send a .doc/.docx, .pdf or .jpg file to umassdarh@yahoo.com.

Lodging will be arranged at no cost to participants who travel from far away. Free meals will be provided during the conference.

Contact Email: umassdarh@yahoo.com Questions? Please email alandry2@umassd.edu

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