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CAA offers Annual Conference Travel Grants to graduate students in art history and studio art and to international artists and scholars. In addition, the Getty Foundation has funded the fifth year of a program that enables applicants from outside the United States to attend the 104th Annual Conference in Washington, DC, which takes place February 3–6, 2016. Applicants may apply for more than one grant but can only receive a single award.

CAA-Getty International Program

The CAA-Getty International Program, generously supported by the Getty Foundation, provides funding to fifteen art historians, museum curators, and artists who teach art history to attend the 2016 Annual Conference. The grant covers travel expenses, hotel accommodations for eight nights, per diems, conference registrations, and one-year CAA memberships. Extended deadline: August 26, 2015.

CAA Graduate Student Conference Travel Grant

CAA will award a limited number of $250 Graduate Student Conference Travel Grants to advanced PhD and MFA graduate students as partial reimbursement of travel expenses to attend the 2016 Annual Conference. To qualify for the grant, students must be current CAA members. Successful applicants will also receive a complimentary conference registration. Deadline: September 18, 2015.

CAA International Member Conference Travel Grant

CAA will award a limited number of $500 International Member Conference Travel Grants to artists and scholars from outside the United States as partial reimbursement of travel expenses to attend the 2016 Annual Conference. To qualify for the grant, applicants must be current CAA members. Successful applicants will also receive a complimentary conference registration. Deadline: September 18, 2015.

Donate to the Annual Conference Travel Grants

CAA’s Annual Conference Travel Grants are funded solely by donations from CAA members—please contribute today. Charitable contributions are 100 percent tax deductible. CAA extends a warm thanks to those members who made voluntary contributions to this fund during the past twelve months.



Trigger Warning Presentation AAUP

posted by DeWitt Godfrey


DeWitt Godfrey, professor of art and art history at Colgate University and president of the CAA Board of Directors, delivered the following presentation during a panel on trigger warnings at the one hundredth anniversary conference of the American Association of University Professors in Washington, DC, on Friday, June 12, 2015. In addition, Linda Downs, CAA executive director, has written a response to the panel.

Trigger Warning Presentation AAUP

First I would like to thank Joan Bertin and Shaden Tageldin for the invitation to the College Art Association to participate in this panel. I would also like to thank CAA’s executive director Linda Downs, Nia Page, Director of Memebership and Michael Goodman, Director of IT for their support. Special thanks to Angela Gibson, Associate Managing Editor of Book Publications at MLA who created and analyzed the survey results.

I feel it’s just safer, teaching in the state of Texas, to put a clear statement on my syllabus at the beginning of the term. That way, I can point to it and say that the individual had been warned.

This is all new to me, but it’s made me think twice about each and every assignment that contains material that might make one student uncomfortable, but that is necessary for me to deliver the course as I believe it should be taught.

Self censorship is the worst form of censorship.

My concern is for the insidious ways that things like trigger warnings induce doubt, fear and intimidation.

During CAA’s Mellon Foundation supported Fair Use project, we learned shocking fact that 50% of scholars and 30% of artists had abandoned projects due to fear and misunderstanding of copyright. The chilling effects of this restrictive culture of permissions on cultural production and production of knowledge cannot be overstated; how many articles, books, exhibitions and dissertations have been lost to a culture that overemphasizes ownership and unfairly removes works from study and distribution?

I would like to place trigger warnings in the context of other ideological assaults on intellectual freedom, the ways that this brings well meaning persons from the left—often feminist left—into an uneasy (and I hope unintended) alliance with an anti-intellectual conservative right; each marshal oppressive forces of fear to stifle debate.

We are in a moment that requires academics, in my opinion, to reenage with the world, and regrettably the debates around education are currently on terms that are no longer our own. There sounds a steady drumbeat of demands that we justify the value and place of the arts and humanities in our institutions and culture; there are moves to shift already eroding funding and support towards alledgedly more practical, more instrumental areas of education and study with more quantitative deliverables of jobs and careers. And the old arguments that the humanities and arts are “good” for you or even the overwhelming evidence that arts and creative communities deliver measuable economic benefits are no longer adequate. These arguments are reactive and reduce what we do to the adjunctive and peripheral, where we cede the terms of the debate.

So what do we do in a context that can only relate to cultural production in terms of the liberal economic model? What are the counter narratives that lead us away from the place of hand wringing and learned helplessness passively awaiting our eventual destruction?

We must reassert the humanities as the space of speculation and imagination that is at the center of human experience and the creation of culture. Art is where cultures and communities work things out, where we come to terms with the unfamiliar and rexamine the familiar; we are the canary in coal mine and we hold our own string, we help define, create and then transgress the boundaries of the normative. We propose frameworks for discernment, we cultivate the value of small and subtle differences, we consider from more than a single perspective, we look closely, we see through ideologies of stark difference. We explore shifting criteria, ideally we teach our students how to construct their own, we help create the capacity for sound judgement, to understand the contingent nature of such judgements, to be comfortable with uncertainty.

A neuroscience colleague at my University put it this way: during a conversation with a group of faculty, one remarked on recent work in his field that seemed to promise, one day, that all of our feelings, emotions and sensations could be reduced to series of well understood electrochemical interactions, the merely mechanical. He replied that in the unlikely event that ever came to pass, we would still have to figure what to do about it, we would still have to decide what it would mean.

Ideological Attempts to proscibe what can and can’t be taught, even those based in good intentions like trigger warnings, put that process in jeopardy.

Very few of us, I suspect, want to deliberately or inadvertantly hurt our students but, as the survey response show, most of us want to challenge them, to provide spaces in which they confront the unfamiliar.

The idea of “safe” space has been transformed so far that the educational mission itself becomes framed as “unsafe.” I write this as a woman who works on difficult material by marginalized groups. I understand discursive inequality and the ways that texts can be experienced as deeply personal. But the “safe” idea has itself become quite dangerous, I think. A student this fall put it best: “I don’t want a safe space to protect me from the world; I want to develop tools to change the world.”

Conceptual art example.

Derived from the context shifting ready-mades of Duchamp, conceptual artists assert that the un-embodied idea alone can be a work of art. As a consequence, anything or nothing can be a work of art. Such realizations can require a wrenching shift in ones entire worldview. One day the cup and saucer on your breakfast table have clear and certain utility and meaning, the next you cannot be so sure, things slide back and forth losing and gaining defining qualities. Imagine your world-view as a completed puzzle, where the many variegated pieces fit neatly into a coherent bounded image. Changing the shape or orientation of one piece, your definition and understanding of what is and isn’t art for example, means that many—maybe even all—the other pieces must be rethought, reshaped and replaced to restore coherence, to reestablish a consistent, workable world-view.

One can understand then where the resistance and rejection of conceptual art’s challenge originates. I do not expect students to necessarily share my reading of art, I do not proselytize, but I do expect that their rejection or acceptance of this mode of art practice be based on an engagement with it, not merely because it doesn’t “fit” their current understanding.

Art often provokes emotional responses ahead of intellectual ones, students—and fellow faulty—are often offended by the challenges presented by the avant-garde, morally outraged.

Conceptual art happened, it cannot be unhappened.

How can we teach such things as war, homophobia, racism, misogyny, homophobia, and violence if we cannot expect students to read such texts or material? How can we educate students about such violence (and thus hope to end such violence) if students refuse to engage with it in the classroom? And what about students who might refuse material that is contrary to other belief systems? For example, might fundamentalist students (of any religion or political philosophy) refuse to read books on sexuality, feminism, or women? In a word, trigger warnings feel like a reasonable issue in terms of supporting student survivors of sexual violence. But what about other kinds of censorship? And painfully, it is the very students who ask for trigger warnings (often open-minded, progressive, well-meaning, feminist students) who dont understand that their feminist request sounds like a conservative one for many progressive teachers.

The appealing dangers of certainty, fanning the conflagration of fear and anxiety.

I have had my share of trauma, but I am not sure if the best way of coping is to have yet another paternalistic/maternalistic authority figure interfering with what may be a trigger or not. Let me be the judge.

I would be very wary of any policy that required instructors to provide trigger warnings, because essentially that would mean the University was regulating certain kinds of speech/imagery and denoting it as deviant or disturbing.

I have colleagues whose experience with students sensitized by such warnings, prepped for PTSD I would say, serves as appalling evidence of the manipulation of young women into self-conscious victim positions and the closing down of discourse. As a life-long feminist and survivor of kidnap and gang-rape myself, who has helped many others cope with the aftermath, I have no evidence that trigger warnings lead to anything but the cultivation of a posture of fear. And the damage to freedom of speech–and simply to education, particularly feminist education—is incalculable.

The shift from Political Correct to Individual Correctness, any one persons trauma is by definition, the greatest of traumas. The right to never be offended.

The “trigger warning”, which forces teachers to change their teaching plans based on calculations about what topics might hurt students’ feelings or make them feel “unsafe”, forces teachers into the work of affirming the narcissism of many privileged students. It also buys into the notion that learning, study and education is a consumer experience, and that the consumers (the students) get to decide whether they like the goods on offer.

How can one predict what experiences students bring so that one can provide the correct warnings? What may seem totally innocent to the faculty member may trigger a reaction from a student. It’s almost as if faculty now have to adapt each course to the number of students enrolled: independent studies would be a more accurate description of a course if accommodations have to be made for everyone.

As someone who teaches predominantly non-white literature that often times critiques white privilege, comments by white students regarding this course material seems to miss the actual point regarding trigger warnings—it refuses to acknowledge (and actually desires to protect) the very privilege that many of the texts critique.

Ideology, like theory, bends and twists all available material into the pursuit of its own agenda, and casts out the rest. Its uses are by definition limited.

We seem to be in a golden age of passive aggression, whereby the speech of others can be controlled or stopped if one feels ‘uncomfortable.’

PTSD is real, accomodations can be made as they already are for other conditions that impact a students participation, performance and evaluation.

I feel that students should assume agency and talk to their professors about any personal needs. To offer blanket trigger warnings sends the message that some triggers are more important than others. I don’t believe it is pedagogically useful to sanitize spaces of learning of anything that could cause discomfort. The “real” world does not come with trigger warnings.



Filed under: Education, Students, Teaching

Trigger Warnings

posted by Linda Downs


Trigger warnings was the topic addressed on a panel—organized by the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), the Modern Language Association (MLA), and CAA—that took place at the one hundredth anniversary conference of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in Washington, DC, on Friday, June 12, 2015. Joan Bertin, executive director of NCAC, led a group of speakers that included Shaden Tageldin, professor of cultural studies at the University of Minnesota and chair of the MLA’s Women’s Committee, Anita Levy of AAUP, and DeWitt Godfrey, professor of art and art history at Colgate University and CAA president.

Faculty at several universities, including Wellesley College and the University of California, Santa Barbara, have adopted procedures to warn students, on syllabi, of disturbing topics that could trigger posttraumatic stress disorder or other strong reactions to subjects that will be presented in class. Students who may be affected are allowed to miss the class in which the identified work is discussed.

CAA and MLA prepared an informal survey in preparation for this panel and sent it to all members. Bertin summarized the results in her introduction. The survey found that less than 1 percent of the respondents’ institutions have adopted a policy on trigger warnings. However, 23 percent of faculty report that they have voluntarily provided warnings several times or regularly. Student-initiated efforts have instituted trigger warnings represent 7.5 percent. Fifteen percent of faculty indicated that students in their classes have requested warnings in the course they teach. Roughly 12 percent of respondents report that students have complained, either to the instructor or to administrators, about the failure to provide warnings. And 45 percent of respondents who have had first-hand experience with trigger warnings see it as a real threat to academic freedom. Many respondents added comments to the survey regarding their approaches, policies, concerns, and questions about trigger warnings. The panel will be reviewing them and preparing a document that summarizes them to assist other faculty in approaching this issue with their students and administrators.

Godfrey believes that trigger warnings are a form of self-censorship that induces doubt, fear, and intimidation in students as well as faculty. He called on faculty to reassert the humanities as a space of speculation and imagination at the center of human experience and to help students confront the unfamiliar in order to change it. “Art is where cultures and communities work things out,” Godfrey said, “where we come to terms with the unfamiliar and reexamine the familiar.” He sees a shift from the “politically correct” to “individual correctness,” where any one person’s trauma is, by definition, the greatest trauma. The individual now is asserting a right never to be offended or challenged intellectually. This shuts the door on exploration and discussion. There is also a chilling effect on faculty who are increasingly subject to administrative, student, and parental criticism and evaluation. Trigger warnings grew out of the feminist concern for the status of women on campus, but the result is that they find themselves in a place that can be identified as that of the political right. (CAA has published the text of Godfrey’s presentation.)

Tagilden indicated that trigger warnings grew out of the feminist concern for the status of women related to the trauma of rape, and that there should be a clear differentiation between mediated reality and reality in the classroom, so that students can move beyond their own limitations and find outlets and language to deal with traumas instead of normalizing victim appropriation. If students opt out of classes with difficult material, it automatically places the personal on a political plane.

What is the cause of this interest in protecting students from topics that may be difficult or traumatizing to address? Some in the audience saw it as coddling students for fear of criticism being levied on faculty. Some saw it as a question of race and class privilege. Students who have lived protected lives determine the need for treatment of all students. Others see it as a new generation of students isolated and unable to handle personal interaction as described in Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together.

The panel will be reviewing all the comments from respondents to the CAA/MLA survey to cull the most useful approaches that were recommended from the field to address the issue of trigger warnings. These recommendations will be posted by NCAC, CAA, and MLA in the near future.



Filed under: Education, Students, Teaching

2015 Fellowships for MFA and PhD Students

posted by Roberta Lawson


CAA has begun accepting applications from MFA and PhD students for its Professional-Development Fellowships in the Visual Arts and Art History. For the current cycle, CAA will award grants of $10,000 each to outstanding students who will receive their terminal degrees in the calendar year 2016. One award will be presented to a practitioner—an artist, designer, and/or craftsperson—and one award will be presented to an art, architecture, and/or design historian, curator, or critic.

Fellows also receive a free one-year CAA membership and complimentary registration to the 104th Annual Conference in Washington, DC, taking place February 3–6, 2016. Honorable mentions, given at the discretion of the jury, earn a free one-year CAA membership and complimentary conference registration.

CAA’s fellowship program supports promising artists, designers, craftspersons, historians, curators, and critics who are enrolled in MFA, PhD, and other terminal degree programs nationwide.. Awards are intended to help the students with various aspects of their work, whether it be for job-search expenses or purchasing materials for art/design practice. CAA believes a grant of this kind, without contingencies, can best facilitate the transition between graduate studies and professional careers.

Please visit collegeartassociation.slideroom.com to submit applications to the Professional-Development Fellowship programs. The deadline for applications for the PhD fellowships is Friday, October 2, 2015, and Monday, November 16, 2015, for the MFA fellowships. Awardees will be announced in January 2016.




caa.reviews recently published the authors and titles of doctoral dissertations in art history and visual studies—both completed and in progress—from American and Canadian institutions for calendar year 2014. You may browse by listing date or by subject matter. Each entry identifies the student’s name, dissertation title, school, and advisor.

Each institution granting the PhD in art history and/or visual studies submits dissertation titles once a year to CAA for publication. The caa.reviews list also includes dissertations completed and in progress between 2002 and 2013, making basic information about their topics available through web searches.



Call for Mock Interviewers

posted by Lauren Stark


For the 2015 Annual Conference in New York, the Student and Emerging Professionals Committee seeks established professionals to volunteer as practice interviewers for the Mock Interview Sessions. Participating as an interviewer is an excellent way to serve the field and to assist with the professional development of the next generation of artists and scholars.

In these sessions, interviewers pose as a prospective employer, speaking with individuals in a scenario similar to the Interview Hall at the conference. Each session is composed of approximately 10–15 minutes of interview questions and a quick review of the application packet, followed by 5–10 minutes of candid feedback. Whenever possible, the committee matches interviewers and interviewees based on medium or discipline.

Interested candidates must be current CAA members and prepared to give six successive twenty-minute interviews with feedback in a two-hour period on one or both of these days: Thursday, February 12, 11:00 AM–1:00 PM and 3:00–5:00 PM; and Friday, February 13, 9:00–11:00 AM and 1:00–3:00 PM. Conference registration, while encouraged, is not required to be a mock interviewer. Desired for the sessions are art historians, art educators, designers, museum-studies professionals, critics, curators, and studio artists with tenure and/or experience on a search committee. You may volunteer for one, two, three, or all four Mock Interview Sessions.

Please send your name, affiliation, position, contact information, and the days and times that you are available to Megan Koza Young, chair of the Student and Emerging Professionals Committee. Deadline: January 31, 2015.

The Mock Interview Sessions are not intended as a screening process by institutions seeking new hires.




Students and emerging professionals have the opportunity to sign up for a twenty-minute practice interview at the 2015 Annual Conference in New York. Organized by the Student and Emerging Professionals Committee, Mock Interview Sessions give participants the chance to practice their interview skills one on one with a seasoned professional, improve their effectiveness during interviews, and hone their elevator speech. Interviewers also provide candid feedback on application packets.
Mock Interview Sessions are offered free of charge; you must be a CAA member to participate. Sessions are filled by appointment only and scheduled for Thursday, February 12, 11:00 AM–1:00 PM and 3:00–5:00 PM; and Friday, February 13, 9:00–11:00 AM and 1:00–3:00 PM. Conference registration, while encouraged, is not necessary to participate.

To apply, download, complete, and send the 2015 Mock Interview Sessions Enrollment Form to Megan Koza Young, chair of the Student and Emerging Professionals Committee, by email to sepccaa@gmail.com or by mail to: 706 Webster Street, New Orleans, LA 70118. You may enroll in one twenty-minute session. Deadline: February 5, 2015.

You will be notified of your appointment day and time by email. Please bring your application packet, including cover letter, CV, and other materials related to jobs in your field. The Student and Emerging Professionals Committee will make every effort to accommodate all applicants; however, space is limited.

Onsite enrollment will be limited and first-come, first-served. Sign up in the Student and Emerging Professionals Lounge starting on Wednesday, February 11, at 4:00 PM.



2014 Editions of CAA’s Directories of Graduate Programs

posted by Betty Leigh Hutcheson


CAA’s 2014 editions of Graduate Programs in the Visual Arts and Graduate Programs in Art History are comprehensive resources that feature updated information about 630 programs in 400 schools in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond (see sample entries).

The directories provide prospective graduate students with the information they need to begin the application process. The directories are also key professional references for career-services representatives, department chairs, graduate and undergraduate advisors, librarians, professional-practices educators, and professors interested in helping emerging generations of artists and scholars find success.

Entries from the following program types are available: History of Art and Architecture; Studio Art and Design; Curatorial and Museum Studies; Arts Administration; Art Education; Library Science; Film Production; and Conservation and Historic Preservation.

New this year, CAA is offering PDF files of individual programs (updated in 2014) free of charge with the option of free customized PDF files, created on demand, based on the user’s preferred search criteria. Anyone can search the directories online by program type, faculty specialization, awarded degrees, country, region, state, availability of health insurance, and whether or not part-time students are admitted, or browse the directories by institution and download individual institutional records as PDF files. Search results include the program type, its location, and the program name and description, while the PDF file gives an in-depth profile of each program.

Print volumes offer several delivery options; e-books (as PDF or ePub files) can be downloaded twice and are compatible with your personal computer and most smart phones and ereaders (excluding Kindles). Please note that the individual, program-specific print volumes were last updated in 2013 and are available at a discounted rate.

Individuals can order through CAA’s website. If you are ordering for a school, institution, or department within a college or university, please download the order form and return the completed version with payment to Roberta Lawson, CAA office coordinator. We are unable to process Institutional orders online. Your order will be processed within three to five business days.

For more details, visit the CAA website. For questions about purchasing, please contact Roberta Lawson, CAA office coordinator, at 212-392-4404.



caa.reviews Seeks 2014 Doctoral Dissertations

posted by Alyssa Pavley


Dissertation titles in art history and visual studies from American and Canadian institutions, both completed and in progress, are published annually in caa.reviews, making them available through web searches. PhD-granting institutions may send a list of their doctoral students’ dissertation titles for 2014 to dissertations@collegeart.org. The complete Dissertation Submission Guidelines regarding the format of listings are now available. CAA does not accept listings from individuals. Improperly formatted lists will be returned to sender. For more information, please write to the above email address or visit the guidelines page. Deadline: January 15, 2015.



Get Mentored at the 2015 Annual Conference

posted by Lauren Stark


As a CAA member, you have access to a diverse range of mentors at Career Services during the 103rd Annual Conference, taking place February 11–14, 2015, in New York. All emerging, midcareer, and even advanced art professionals can benefit from one-on-one discussions with dedicated mentors about artists’ portfolios, career-management skills, and professional strategies.

You may enroll in either the Artists’ Portfolio Review or Career Development Mentoring—please choose one. Participants are chosen by a lottery of applications received by the deadline; all applicants are notified of their scheduled date and time slot by email in early 2015. Both sessions are offered free of charge. Conference registration, while encouraged, is not necessary to participate. All applicants must be current CAA members.

Artists’ Portfolio Review

The Artists’ Portfolio Review offers CAA members the opportunity to have digital images or DVDs of their work reviewed by artists, critics, curators, and educators in personal twenty-minute consultations. Whenever possible, CAA matches artists and mentors based on medium or discipline. You may bring battery-powered laptops; wireless internet, however, is not available in the room. Sessions are filled by appointment only and are scheduled for Thursday, February 12, and Friday, February 13, 2015, 8:00 AM–NOON and 1:00–5:00 PM each day.

To apply, download and complete the Career Development Enrollment Form. Send the completed form by email to Lauren Stark, CAA manager of programs; by fax to 212-627-2381; or by mail to: Artists’ Portfolio Review, College Art Association, 50 Broadway, 21st Floor, New York, NY 10004. Deadline extended: January 9, 2015.

Career Development Mentoring

Artists, art historians, art educators, and museum professionals at all stages of their careers may apply for one-on-one consultations with veterans in their fields. Through personal twenty-minute consultations, Career Development Mentoring offers a unique opportunity for participants to receive candid advice on how to conduct a thorough job search; present cover letters, CVs, and digital images; and prepare for interviews. Whenever possible, CAA matches participants and mentors based on medium or discipline. Sessions are filled by appointment only and are scheduled for Thursday, February 12, and Friday, February 13, 2015, 8:00 AM–NOON and 1:00–5:00 PM each day.

To apply, download and complete the Career Development Enrollment Form. Send the completed form by email to Lauren Stark, CAA manager of programs; by fax to 212-627-2381; or by mail to: Career Development Mentoring, College Art Association, 50 Broadway, 21st Floor, New York, NY 10004. Deadline extended: January 9, 2015.




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