CFP | AAH | SUMMER SYMPOSIUM 2023 | Art Out of Place

Art Out of Place: shifting contexts, contested meanings

Summer Symposium, Association of Art History, 30 June 2023, Glasgow Women’s Library, Scotland 

Organized by DECR Committee Members Jess Bailey (University College London), Nikki Kane (University of Glasgow), & Sonny Ruggiero (University of Edinburgh) 

Deadline to apply: 20 May 2023

Call for Papers

Artworks change context. They live complex lives beyond their immediate moment of production. An artwork’s meaning is often contested across this reception history. Have you encountered an artwork or object of visual and material culture in your research that has lived many lives, while challenging the interpretive frameworks of art history? This symposium offers an opportunity to examine these objects and questions in detail.

Amplifying current PhD and early career researchers working in fields across visual and material culture studies, Art Out of Place is the Association for Art History’s 2023 Summer Symposium. Held at the Glasgow Women’s Library, an archive, museum, and grassroots community research space in Scotland, this gathering will bring together a group of emerging researchers thinking critically about the relationship between context and meaning. Each of the symposium’s selected speakers will focus on a primary artwork or object from their research, sharing how changes in context, use, and interpretation impact our wider study of visual and material culture. What are the specific stakes for an artwork or object’s meaning when it changes contexts? 

As art historians and researchers of visual and material culture, our own viewership and writing forms yet another moment in an object’s reception history. Focusing on the biographies of objects as they move across sometimes vast amounts of time and space, often with acute cultural and political ramifications, also invites consideration of our own positionality. In bringing together a group of researchers and their primary objects of study, this symposium will ask what methods can help us in the face of shifting contexts and contested meanings? 

We are looking for objects where a change or multiple changes in context have occurred. Broader topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Reception history
  • Object biographies
  • After lives of objects
  • Spolia and re-used / recycled objects into new works, uses
  • Changes in cultural, political, geographic context of encounter 
  • The historiography of methods used to interpret a work and their ramifications
  • A change in context resulting in the production of copies, new artworks
  • The history of collecting
  • Restitution and decoloniality 
  • Museum space, exhibition practice
  • Contested identification and its political ramifications
  • Protest history’s use of artworks and objects, reformulating an object for a new cause
  • Shifts between different devotional and secular contexts of encounter
  • An object’s life amongst changes in the definition of ‘art’ itself as a category

We welcome work with non-conventional artworks or objects that may fall more readily into categories of material culture. Researchers writing about any culture or geographic region from ancient through contemporary are warmly encouraged to apply. 

How to Apply

Please centre your talk around a primary artwork or object of visual and material culture which you will address in relationship with our symposium’s theme. To apply, please complete this brief form.

You will be asked for the following information: 

  • Your name, email, and affiliation.
  • An image of your talk’s primary artwork or object of visual and material culture study.
  • 300-word abstract and the title of your 12-minute talk.
  • 200-word biography.
  • (optional) 200-word statement explaining why you would like to be considered for a travel bursary.

If accepted, you will be invited to deliver a 12-minute talk accompanied by slides in person. You are expected to attend the full-day program in support of your fellow researchers’ work. No remote/pre-recorded papers will be accepted. Incomplete applications and alternative formats will not be considered. Any problems or questions please write to us at 


This conference is for current or recent PhD students, and early career researchers in the arts, humanities, and museum sector broadly defined. We will not be accepting applications from MA students (including those starting a PhD in autumn 2023) and warmly direct you to the Association for Art History’s annual New Voices event. We will also not accept applications from faculty with permanent jobs but prioritize junior members of our field who are students or on temporary employment. 

You may be an experienced conference presenter, or this might be your first time speaking at a conference. Speakers will receive a guide on presenting at an academic conference: we all present differently, but a few tips and tricks can be helpful if you are new to sharing your work in this format. The Summer Symposium is a warm and welcoming place for us all to practice presenting our research.


In consideration of the growing precarity facing students, artists, and young academic professionals in the arts at this time, we are offering two travel bursaries of £100 each to speakers. 

If you do not have funding available to you at your home institution or are an independent researcher, please feel welcome to apply for these funds when you submit your abstract and supporting materials. We regret that we cannot offer more bursaries now. 

While this symposium is ticketed (free for members of the Association for Art History, £5 for non-members) we do not want finances to be a barrier to inclusion. Please email us if you cannot afford a ticket or student membership to the Association, and we will book you in free of charge, no questions asked. 

Conference attendees will receive a guide on affordable accommodation and food options in Glasgow to ease the planning process of sustainably attending.

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