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CFP: Making Space - Northwestern University Graduate Symposium

Type: Calls For Papers [View all]
Posted by: Northwestern University
Deadline: Fri, February 11th, 2022

Making Space

Myers Graduate Student Symposium

Northwestern University

Date: May 6, 2022


The 2022 Myers Graduate Student Symposium in the Department of Art History at Northwestern University will explore the interrelation of art and space, asking how art emerges from, collaborates in, and shapes the making of space.

Space has been a central concern of art historians from the origins of the discipline in the sixteenth century until today, manifesting in Vasarian stories about artists’ studios and social circles, suppositions of national character, and accounts of transcultural movement. In our globalized world, space-making continues to serve as a material and political constraint in ways that have come into sharper focus during an ongoing pandemic, refugee crises, and ecological disaster. Space has long both manifested and contested socio-political hegemonies at the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, and other facets of identity, and our present moment has only made just, equitable, and daring responses more pressing. As such, this symposium intends for “making space” to denote a practice of foregrounding marginalized perspectives and platforming calls for justice.

This symposium invites scholars to consider how art makes space through representation, reception, and circulation as it structures practices of viewing, modes of relation, and fields of knowledge. This includes the reciprocal relationship between art and space, wherein space is made for artworks (the museum, the kunstkammer, the public square) and art/architecture creates space (the cathedral, the office building, the city plan), as well as considerations of space as an aesthetic object itself. What can we learn of our past, present, and future with an analytical eye towards the making of space, and what space, in turn, makes? How does the specificity of site mingle with unseen networks that crisscross bounds of geography? What sort of spaces are the silk road, the Atlantic world, the global South, or the art world? What does it mean to be invisible, fugitive, or absent in space? To whom does space belong and what role does art play in acts of possession and dispossession, belonging and alienation, movement and stillness?

Following from these core questions, this symposium intends to foster dialogue and connections across art historical subfields, geographies, materials, and time periods. We encourage submissions from research and/or practice-based scholars working across disciplines and proposals addressing issues of social and environmental justice.


Possible topics include but are not limited to:

●      Personal, social, and public space

●      Geography and cartography

●      Land, landscape, and environment

●      Borders, migration, and diasporic space

●      Fugitivity and invisibility

●      Site specificity and rootedness

●      Visionary spaces (the imaginary, ruins, utopias/dystopias)

●      Embodied experience and phenomenology

●      Translocal and transnational movement

●      Colonization and decolonization, imperialism and neo-imperialism

●      Urban planning and architecture

●      Material conditions of space


Making Space will take place on May 6, 2022 with graduate student speakers from universities across the United States. The symposium will culminate with an invited keynote from two local Chicago art historians, and will include a gallery tour at the Block Museum. Accepted speakers who do not reside locally will receive roundtrip economy airfare and accommodation in Evanston. At this time, we are planning for an in-person symposium but will adapt to a virtual format as Covid-19 conditions require.


Selected proposals will demonstrate rigor and ingenuity in their chosen topic, engaging deeply and creatively with the stated theme. Particular preference will be given to those applicants whose research intersects with social justice and/or public-facing work. We intend for our roster of invitees to represent a diverse range of educational institutions. Selected participants will also have the opportunity to receive written feedback on their papers from a Northwestern faculty member before the symposium.


Please submit proposals through this portal by February 11, 2022. Please include in your proposal a 300-word abstract and a 2-page C.V. in a single PDF file. Selections will be announced in early March. Any questions can be sent to the organizers at



Posted on Fri, January 14th, 2022
Expires on Fri, February 11th, 2022

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