2021 Annual Conference

University of Birmingham
14 – 16 April 2021


The Association for Art History’s 47th Annual Conference will take place at the University of Birmingham.  We are delighted to be working with the Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies towards delivering the 2021 Annual Conference for art history.


The Annual Conference brings together international research and critical debate about art, art history and visual cultures. This key annual event is an opportunity to keep up to date with new research, hear leading keynotes, broaden networks and exchange ideas. The Annual Conference is open to all, but members of the Association receive discounted rates. Attracting around 500 delegates each year, the conference is popular with academics, curators, practitioners, PhD students, early career researchers and non-art historians engaged with art history research.


The Annual Conference reflects the Association for Art History’s commitment to a broad and inclusive art history for all. We therefore strive for a broad and inclusive range of sessions, across all areas of research and practice, including Medieval, Early Modern, and research that focuses on practice outside of Europe and North America.

Our 2021 Annual Conference in Birmingham aims to draw out the latest international research and debates within art history, curating and visual studies that will set the agenda for future scholarship in these diverse but inter-related fields. We are particularly interested in sessions that work across established boundaries, be they disciplinary, geographical or conceptual. We encourage session proposals that will invite broad paper proposals.

In keeping with the department’s reputation for research-led teaching, we also welcome sessions that explore issues of pedagogy and historiography in art and curating histories. Sessions that explore and debate the role of regional centres within art-historical and curating discourses are equally welcomed.


Birmingham connects us historically and contemporaneously to vibrant and often challenging art histories. From its Victorian status as the ‘workshop of the world’ and proximity to the Jewellery Quarter and the Potteries, to the world’s largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art at Birmingham Museum and Art Galleries, a home for refugees from Nazism, the cradle of black British art in Wolverhampton, and socially-engaged contemporary arts organisations including Ikon and Grand Union, Birmingham is an exciting place in which to hold the 2021 Annual Conference. This location, with its varied body of artworks, practitioners and organisations will provide a stimulating environment for new encounters in art history, curating and visual cultures.

We hope that this conference will provoke new encounters with art histories, curating and visual cultures.

Session Proposals

The Annual Conference’s academic programme comprises of multiple sessions that reflect a broad and inclusive art history, from the classical to the contemporary. Sessions represent scholarly and discursive research across all periods, geographies and media. The 2021 programme will host the following session options, with each session taking place over one day only.  This is to allow for the maximum scope and representation of research, whilst also allowing delegates in that panel to attend other sessions.

  • One day Session Panel (full day) – will form of up to eight, 25-minute papers delivered over one day.
  • Half day Session Panel (morning/afternoon) – will form of four, 25-minute papers delivered either in the morning or the afternoon.
  • Alternative panel formats – in addition to the more traditional format of papers, we welcome proposals for sessions in alternative formats which we will endeavour to accommodate. These might be round table or panel discussions, workshops, or less formal and shorter-length presentations.
  • Sponsored Sessions – we also welcome proposals from organisations and subject specialist networks who would like to run a session within the conference programme.

How to submit

We invite panel proposals that engage with art history in its broadest sense, and which will generate an exciting and challenging conference programme.

Session proposals should be no more than 250 words. They must include a title, session abstract and the name(s) and contact details of the session convenor(s). If you are proposing an alternative research panel format, please give as much detail as possible of the required facilities in the proposal. Also indicate if you are proposing a full-day or half day session.

Titles of session proposals should state clearly what the session is about, or aims to explore, so as to attract as many paper proposals as possible. A succinct and self-explanatory session title also helps delegates to navigate the academic programme more easily.

We encourage co-convened panel sessions which might, for instance, combine convenors from different institutions, combine convenors at different career stages, or bring together convenors across disciplines and/or practice.

Deadline for session proposals: 1 May 2020. Submit via email to: sessions2021@forarthistory.org.uk