Call for Papers: Art of History Conference, 13–14 June, University of Nottingham

  • Region: East Midlands
  • Type: Conference
  • Cost: Free

The Art of History: 13–14 June 2024, University of Nottingham

In recent years, significant historiographical flashpoints have pushed questions surrounding ‘whose’ and ‘which’ histories should hold central positions in intellectual, public, and lived terms. An extraordinary growth in public awareness of historiographical debates has inflected both display and production of visual arts. Whether it has been the removal of memorials celebrating the Confederacy, the return of Benin bronzes, or commissioning of works to highlight past injustices, there has been an explosion of interest in visual and aesthetic responses to the past.

The tangled relationship between Art and History dates back far beyond such recent iterations of the-past-as-subject-matter. From the battle scenes depicted in ancient Assyrian bas-reliefs or in the Mayan paintings at Bonampak, to eighteenth-century watercolours of classical ruins, or the engraved illustrations of nineteenth-century history books, to more recent curatorial interventions by Fred Wilson and Sonia Boyce, visual art has always played a crucial role in the formulation and interrogation of our historical imaginations. As Walter Benjamin observed ‘History breaks down into images, not into stories.’

The University of Nottingham’s Department of Cultural Media, and Visual Studies and Department of History announce an open call for their 2024 The Art of History Conference. This in-person event will address how the historical past has been explored by artists and illustrators for the purpose of education, propaganda, memorialization, and critique across diverse cultural, geographical, and temporal contexts. In this way, the conference will consider how ideologies, methodologies and creative tendencies in the present (whenever that ‘present’ may be) shape or influence how and why the historical past is visualized in paintings, sculptures, illustrations, installations, performances or prints.

We welcome proposals for 20-minute papers from scholars, artists, curators and critics working in areas including but not limited to:

  • Nostalgia and the imagined pasts
  • Monuments, memorials, propaganda
  • Creative approaches to archives and collections
  • Visualizing traumatic or marginalized pasts
  • History Painting and the Academy
  • Recycling historical forms, styles or motifs
  • Time and temporality as subject matter
  • History textbook illustrations in context
  • Racialized histories and their imagery
  • Visual translations of oral traditions
  • Postmodernism and visualizing the past
  • The politics of museums and display

Proposals must include:

  • The participant’s email address, research field, and professional affiliation
  • The paper’s title and an abstract of no more than 300 words
  • A biography of no more than 100 words

We are interested in submissions from scholars working in disciplines including art history, visual culture, history, media studies, historiography, design histories, and archaeology, as well as practitioners including artists, curators and illustrators.

Please send your submissions to and by 15 March 2024.

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