CFP: Graphically Graphic Art: The making of modern print erotica, 1850–1950, Session at the Association for Art History’s 2021 Annual Conference, University of Birmingham (UK), 14th-17th April 2021 

Abbey Rees-Hales's picture

CALL FOR PAPERS: Graphically Graphic Art: The making of modern print erotica, 1850–1950 <>


Session at the Association for Art History’s 2021 Annual Conference, University of Birmingham (U.K.), 14th-17th April, 2021 


Session conveners:

Abbey Rees-Hales, University of Birmingham,

Camilla Smith, University of Birmingham,


The latter half of the 19th century witnessed a proliferation of erotic visual material that marked the beginning of a period celebrated by some for its sexual ‘freedoms’ and chastised by others for its excess. The reform and regulation of sexual life and its scientific study, as well as the re-evaluation of the bourgeois family unit and its restrictive sexual standards, made sex into a central topic of public scrutiny (Kirsten Leng, Sexual Politics and Feminist Science: Women Sexologists in Germany, 1900–1933, Ithaca and London, 2018). Sexual imagery was nothing new. However, the development of new technologies that permitted the cheap offset printing of lavishly illustrated essays, postcards and print and photographic folios, now turned readers into mass viewers across social and economic divides. Throughout Europe, erotic material became an increasing source of moral concern – lest it should corrupt impressionable young minds – spawning diverse methods of state control.  It also troubled the self-appointed gatekeepers of indecency: the producers and publishers of elite erotica.


This session seeks to explore the complex ways in which erotic print culture, modernism, and modernity intersect. How did new media and technology transform the ways in which the erotic subject was portrayed and circulated? Is erotica simply 'the pornography of the elite' (Angela Carter, The Sadeian Woman: An Exercise in Cultural History, London, 1979; Andrea Dworkin, Pornography: Men Possessing Women, New York, 1981), or can we productively speak of ‘high’ and ‘low’ erotica? In what ways have artists, publishers, critics or collectors engaged with erotic print material? The panel invites proposals for individual papers that probe all aspects of erotic print culture during the period 1850–1950. Interdisciplinary papers exploring erotic ‘ephemera’ (postcards, advertisements, as well as magazine and book illustrations) are encouraged.


Deadline for submissions: Monday 19th October, 2020


Although it is hard to know with any certainty how the situation around COVID-19 might develop, the Association for Art History does intend to proceed with its 2021 Annual Conference. It is most likely that this will be a hybrid event, combining a physical conference in Birmingham with digital participation.  Consequently, we would encourage submissions from both those who hope to attend in person and those who would be interested in participating virtually.  Further information can be found on the AAH event page: <>


A paper proposal form can be downloaded here: Please send completed paper proposal forms, including an abstract of no more than 250 words, to and no later than Monday 19th October 2020.    Any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding COVID-19, the Association for Art History has decided to change the 2021 Annual Conference from a hybrid event to a fully virtual event. Speakers will now be invited to present their papers virtually, using a secure virtual event platform.

In light of the change to the conference format, the Association for Art History has extended the proposal deadline by two weeks to Monday 2nd November 2020. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch. Thank you.