Call for Papers | Domestic Space and the Arts in Britain, 1753–1900

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on May 26, 2014

While the main deadline for submitting paper proposals for consideration for CAA 2015 passed earlier this month, here’s a late due date for a 90-minute session sponsored by the Historians of British Art:

CAA 2015 Session | Home Subjects: Domestic Space and the Arts in Britain, 1753–1900
College Art Association Conference, New York, 11–14 February 2015

Proposals due by 15 August 2014

Session chairs:
Dr. Melinda McCurdy (Associate Curator of British Art, Huntington Art Collections), mmccurdy@huntington.org
Dr. Morna O’Neill (Wake Forest University), morna.oneill@gmail.com
Dr. Anne Nellis Richter (independent scholar and adjunct instructor, American University), anne.nellis@gmail.com

Home Subjects is a new research working group which aims to illuminate the domestic display of art in Britain. Our goal is to examine the home as a place to view and exhibit works of art within the historical context of the long nineteenth century. Recent scholarship has emphasized the importance of the house itself and notions of ‘domesticity’ as important touchstones in British culture. At the same time, art historians have tended to focus on a history of British art premised on the display of art in public; according to this important narrative, British art developed in relationship to the public sphere in the eighteenth century. Art institutions and exhibitions asserted the importance of the display of art in forming audiences into publics in cultural and political terms. Such efforts continued in the ‘exhibition age’ of the nineteenth century, when display of artwork in museums, galleries, and special exhibitions solidified the important role given to art in articulating a public sphere. This narrative overlooks the continuation of older paradigms of display, especially those premised on the private and domestic audience for works of art. Within this context, the country house takes it place alongside the townhouse as an important venue for the display of art. We aim to explore this ‘counter-narrative’ of the home as the ideal place to view works of art, a view which permeated all areas of art and design and which persisted throughout the nineteenth century, despite the prevailing narrative of the development of public museums.

Also at stake in this project is a reconsideration of domesticity and its relationship to modernity. Important recent scholarship has illuminated some of the ways in which entrenched narratives of modernity and artistic modernism were defined in opposition to the domestic sphere. In a typical avant-garde gambit, artists distinguished works of art from objects of interior decoration by rejecting the private and the domestic. This session aims to bring together scholars whose work addresses this topic in order to posit a new trajectory for modernity, one that can be traced through the private, domestic sphere.

Topics of interest include but are not limited to:
• the display of easel painting and its relationship to the domestic interior
• decorative arts, their status as works of art and relationship to interior decoration
• domestic architecture and museum/gallery architecture, both public and private
• collecting and taste
• the interrelationship between private and public modes of display and decoration

Proposal abstracts should be no more than 500 words, and should be accompanied by a current 2-page c.v. and must be received by email to homesubjects@gmail.com by August 15, 2014. Please also include a mailing address, telephone number, and email.

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