Call for Papers | AAH 2021, Online

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on October 12, 2020

From AAH:

Association for Art History (AAH) Conference
Online (University of Birmingham), 4–17 April 2021

Proposals due by 2 November 2020

After much discussion and deliberation the Association for Art History has decided to convert the 2021 Annual Conference from a hybrid event to a fully virtual event. Our decision comes on the back of ongoing uncertainty regarding COVID-19 and follows the UK government’s recent announcement to remain working from home for the next six months, where possible. Our primary focus is the safety and well-being of conference participants, prospective delegates, and staff. Whilst it’s disappointing not to be able to bring people together in person to share research and exchange ideas, we are very excited about doing this virtually instead. We are looking forward to hosting an expanded event and engaging with even more people and even more international research.

The 2021 Annual Conference was expanded to a four day event to accommodate sessions from this year’s conference which was cancelled. The 2021 conference will still take place over four days, 14–17 April; and we will continue to work with the Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies at the University of Birmingham and with museums and galleries in Birmingham. Session Convenors and speakers will be invited to participate and present their papers digitally, and participate in digital session discussions and debates on-screen, using a secure virtual event platform that will allow delegates maximum access to papers and discussions. Session and paper formats will remain the same, and the four-day programme will continue to offer a range of additional workshops, virtual tours, keynote lectures and networking opportunities for delegates to engage with. We will be conscious of international time differences and screen-fatigue, but aim to offer delegates the same quality of content and experience that people have come to expect, respect and enjoy at an Association for Art History Annual Conference. In light of this decision, we have extended our Call for Papers by two weeks to Monday, 2 November 2020.

Please email your paper proposals direct to the session convenor(s). You need to provide a title and abstract (250 words maximum) for a 25-minute paper (unless otherwise specified), your name and institutional affiliation (if any). Please make sure the title is concise and reflects the contents of the paper because the title is what appears online, in social media and in the printed programme. You should receive an acknowledgement of receipt of your submission within two weeks.

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The following sessions will likely be of interest to Enfilade readers; be sure, however, to check the AAH website for the complete Call for Papers.

Displaying Art in the Early Modern Period, 1450–1750: Exhibiting Practices and Exhibition Spaces
Pamela Bianchi (Paris 8 University), pamelabianchi1@gmail.com

Over the years, despite the increased interest in spatial issues and some iconic studies (Luckhurst, Haskell, Koch), little attention has been paid to the long-term history of the exhibition space and exhibition-making practices. Before the appearance of the first painting exhibitions and the spaces specially designed to show collections, the idea of showing art was mainly related to the habit of dressing up spaces for political and religious commemorations, cultural festivals and marketing strategies. Thus, various venues (palaces, cloisters, façades, squares, pavilions, auction houses, fairs, shops and so forth), where sociability was performed and experienced, ended up becoming temporary and privileged platforms of exhibiting.

What were those places and events? What aesthetic, cultural, social and political discourses intersected with the early idea of exhibition space? How did showing art shape a new vocabulary within these events and, vice versa, how did these occasions condition exhibiting practices? Who were the producers, actors and spectators of these processes, devices and spaces? How can we relate early exhibition logic with art history and exhibition design theories? Which kinds of sources (treatises, depictions) are involved?

The panel proposes to reconsider those events and habits that contributed to defining exhibition-making practices and to shaping the imagery of the exhibition space in the early modern period (1450–1750). Also, it seeks to define a new geography of exhibiting, not limited to Europe but expanded to include exhibiting practices in the early modern Americas, Africa and Asia. It encourages connections between art history, exhibition studies and architectural history, and studies crossing micro-histories and long-term changes, in order to open new perspectives of study and to foster historiographical research through an interdisciplinary approach.

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Reanimating the Past: Embodied Knowledge as Art-Historical Method
Juliet Bellow (American University), bellow@american.edu
Meredith Martin (New York University), msm240@nyu.edu

This session will explore how embodied knowledge can open up new avenues of art-historical inquiry by offering unique insights into the past. In recent years, this interest in the body as a research method and a pedagogical tool has led to a wide range of new practices, among them staging dance performances in museums; reenacting historical events or postures; and learning about artists’ processes by remaking lost pigments or other materials. We aim to discuss what is to be gained from these efforts—how embodied knowledge might expand our understanding of art history as a discipline. Conversely, what does art history have to teach us about the experience and the history of embodiment?

We seek papers covering a variety of chronological periods, geographical areas, cultural traditions and media; we particularly encourage presentations that directly incorporate embodied practices. Presenters may focus on artworks with an embodied dimension, or those for which bodies and movement may reanimate still objects (through tactics such as tableaux vivants). We also welcome papers that relate embodied knowledge to congruent or contiguous methodologies, such as material culture studies, that seek to understand and awaken the haptic or affective dimensions of artworks. Ultimately, we are interested in ways that embodied practices in the present can add new layers of meaning to historical images, objects and texts or, by employing new movement vocabularies, can reveal aspects of artworks that have been hitherto hidden or latent.

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Race and Representation in the French Colonial Empire
Susannah Blair (Columbia University), seb2210@columbia.edu
Stephanie O’Rourke (University of St Andrews), so38@st-andrews.ac.uk

This session will consolidate new research on the visual culture of race in France and its colonies during the 18th century and into the 19th century. It will be oriented around two key terms, ‘representation’ and ‘possession’, and their many resonances­­—artistic, political, legal and relational. Papers will be invited to explore how art objects articulated, contested and disseminated changing notions of racial identity and citizenship in France and its global networks.

Over the past several years, scholars have examined the role of pictorial representation in shaping ideas of race, identity, indigeneity and slavery in the context of the British Empire. Bringing together new scholarship that builds upon these precedents, we aim to address a deliberately expansive geographical notion of French visual culture, one that includes the Caribbean, New France, North Africa, Canada and the Indian Ocean in addition to sites within the ‘metropole’ such as Paris and Nantes. Fostering a dialogue between art history, indigenous studies and critical race theory, our panel will provide a crucial scholarly platform for research that can inform pedagogy, curatorial practice and future scholarship.

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Smell and Stereotype in 18th- and 19th-Century Visual Culture
Ersy Contogouris (University of Montreal), ersy.contogouris@umontreal.ca
Érika Wicky (Université Lumière Lyon 2 / LARHRA), erika.wicky@univ-lyon2.fr

Jean-Baptiste Le Prince, L’Odorat, 1774 (London: The British Museum).

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the ‘olfactory revolution’ that reoriented conceptions of smell led to renewed meanings and functions of this sense in social life. The epistemological shift that strongly linked olfaction with the nervous system, the development of hygiene as a science, and the flourishing of the perfume industry contributed to transforming the significance of smell. The act of smelling thus became involved in many identity constructions such as nation, race, gender and class. Olfaction came to be gendered; for instance, as specific smells became associated with women, the act of smelling was seen as pertaining to the feminine by means of objects such as scent bottles that performed women’s supposed extra-sensitivity to smells, and perfume was increasingly used to bolster the association between women and flowers. At the level of nations, the high proportion of Italian and French perfumers in England contributed to the construction of national stereotypes.

This session seeks to examine ways in which visual culture expressed and reinforced the role of the sense of smell in the construction of stereotypes. Graphic satire, for example, abundantly challenged the invisibility of smell, often representing stench and fragrance in order to express political criticism, reinforce social hierarchies or identify censorious behaviour. Caricaturists, such as Gillray, Boilly and Daumier greatly contributed to stereotyping in allegories, expressions of disgust provoked by miasmas, and representations of effeminate characters such as fops, macaronis, muscadins and dandies. By examining these and other issues related to the representation of smell in the creation and circulation of stereotypes, this session seeks to provide a cross-disciplinary contribution to both the history of visual culture and the history of the senses.

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The Space Between Non-Arts and Fine Arts: Confronting Gender and the Decorative Arts, 1500–1800
Samantha Chang (University of Toronto), Samantha.chang@mail.utoronto.ca
Lauryn Smith (Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Museum of Art), Lauryn.smith@case.edu

The decorative arts are not easily defined and have long occupied the shifting space between the non-arts and the fine arts. During the early-modern period, prominent women, such as Catherine de’ Medici and Amalia van Solms-Braunfels, were at the forefront of amassing impressive collections of decorative objects. Limoges enamel pieces created by Susanne de Court and embroideries fabricated by Katharina Rozee were highly sought after by collectors throughout Europe. Recent exhibitions and publications highlight early-modern women as participants in the creating, cultivating and collecting of decorative objects; however, the examination of women’s agency and visibility is still limited.

In this session, we seek papers that confront the impact of early-modern women instigators as conscious creators or collectors of everyday and luxury objects. What role does gender play in the creation of decorative works and the cultivation of a collection? To what extent can a collection reflect its individual users, and what agencies do the objects retain? We invite proposals that address issues including, but not limited to: women as cultural agents; interrelationships among gender and collecting; issues of class and accessibility to resources; and strategies of display. We welcome proposals from a wide variety of disciplines, including art history, material culture, global studies, cultural studies, history, literature and race studies, as well as papers that take a global or transcultural approach and focus on under-researched media.

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Visual Art and the Middlebrow
Michael Clegg (Art History, Curating and Visual Studies, University of Birmingham), mjc7691@gmail.com
Rebecca Savage (Art History, Curating and Visual Studies, University of Birmingham), RXS411@student.bham.ac.uk

As a scholarly concept, the middlebrow has proved fruitful within literary studies. It has stimulated historical research (Faye Hammill, Nicola Humble, Kristin Bluemel, Emma West and others) into the struggle for cultural authority that marked the mid-20th century ‘battle of the brows’ and provided critical distance on the modernist canon that emerged triumphant within the academy. It has also enabled theoretical work (Beth Driscoll and others) that relates to a range of periods and analyses issues including the construction of cultural hierarchies in the context of class, the gendering of cultural forms, the instrumental use of culture, and the positioning of art in opposition to commerce.

The idea of the middlebrow has had less impact on art history, despite encouragement (notably by Hana Leaper) for scholarship addressing intersections of modernism and the middlebrow. Why this has been the case is open to debate, perhaps indicating limited information on art’s audiences and the tendency to treat art markets as a specialist area of study, as well as the grip of existing modernist historiography. Yet, as theoretical concept and historical topic, the middlebrow has the potential to open new perspectives on received art histories, questioning inherited hierarchies and unmooring assumed chronologies.

This session will invite papers related to any period or geography. These might focus on devalued forms or media (didactic works, illustration, works for children, and so forth), studies of audience or dissemination, questions of disputed value, or any other use of the middlebrow to reframe art history.

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Why Trompe l’Oeil? The Art of Deception across the Boundaries of Time and Space
Stacey Pierson (SOAS University of London), sp17@soas.ac.uk
Chih-En Chen (SOAS University of London), c_chen@soas.ac.uk

Trompe l’oeil, meaning ‘deceiving the eye’, describes works of art and objects with illusionistically beguiling surfaces and forms. Production of such works can now be identified as a global historical phenomenon, with a broad array of examples ranging from the familiar Palissy wares, to Edward Collier’s painting of writing implements, to Chinese jade cabbages that have been challenging the material experience of visuality and countervisuality for hundreds of years. However, despite its long history of production, the ontology of trompe l’oeil artistic production and the reasons behind this illusory invention remain unexplored. Engaging with the concept of trompe l’oeil in expanded art-historical and visual fields of inquiry, across time and space, would allow us to probe the evolution of the pursuit of deceptive visual representation and the consumption of deceitful things in relation to both heuristic and contextual frames such as politics, religion, society and the economics of production.

Accordingly, ‘Why trompe l’oeil?’ will be the fundamental question addressed in this session. Papers might explore how different types of global trompe l’oeil art production have shaped the ways in which such art is produced, dispersed, consumed and conceptualised. Moreover, other artificial approaches to representing reality that developed alongside the concept of trompe l’oeil, such as Skeuomorphism, Cubism, Indeterminism and Naturalism, might also be considered. The primary aim of the session is to expose the rationale and motivation for trompe l’oeil art production by considering its different forms from a trans-historical and trans-spatial perspective and we invite papers that explore this through a range of different perspectives and methodological approaches.

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Note (added 17 October 2020) — The original version of this posting did not include the session on Race and Representation in the French Colonial Empire.

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