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Call for Papers - 'Negotiating Boundaries. The Plural Fields of Art History'

Posted on Monday, 10th December 2012

 Negotiating Boundaries. The Plural Fields of Art History
Barber Institute of Fine Art
University of Birmingham

Monday 1st – Tuesday 2nd July 2013

The formation of art history as a discipline was underpinned by the claim to a special area of expertise which, in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, was accompanied by the development of particular concepts and methods, from the formal and spatial analysis of Wölfflin, Riegl or Schmarsow to the iconology of Panofsky. Linked to the emergence of the concept of autonomous art, the establishment of the discipline was achieved by means of certain exclusions; a rigid line of demarcation was drawn between art history and archaeology, aesthetic judgments were deemed irrelevant and, in a mirroring of Kantian thought, the decorative and applied arts became the objects of a separate, less prestigious, domain of inquiry.

For all the recent talk of interdisciplinarity, these exclusions still shape the terrain of scholarship, producing numerous incongruities. Art historians still seldom discuss the applied arts, while in the Anglophone world architectural history remains a separate subject (with its own professional and discursive institutions). Prehistoric art and the art of the classical worlds are still topics mostly of interest for archaeologists rather than art historians, while the division between fine art and the applied arts has produced a caesura between the ‘traditional’ and the ‘modern’ in the historiography of, for example, the art of the Islamic world or China.

This conference is not concerned with calling for a renewed embrace of interdisciplinary thinking, but rather with considering the implications of the status quo. Why are certain art historical topics still the domain of researchers in other disciplines? What are the consequences? Given the contemporary skepticism towards totalizing forms of thought, should it be even seen as a problem that discourse on art is so plural?

Proposals are invited that address either general theoretical issues or which examine specific case studies that case light on the wider questions of historiography.

Proposals should be submitted to Matthew Rampley, University of Birmingham.

Email: m.j.rampley@bham.ac.uk

Deadline for proposals: Friday 22nd February 2013.