Motivating Monuments: Defining Collective Identities in Public Spaces

Lily Brewer's picture
Call for Papers
March 30, 2018
Pennsylvania, United States
Subject Fields: 
Architecture and Architectural History, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Film and Film History, Fine Arts, Social History / Studies

Motivating Monuments: Defining Collective Identities in Public Spaces is a symposium hosted by the graduate students of the History of Art and Architecture Department at the University of Pittsburgh held November 2-3, 2018. Dr. Jacqueline Jung will serve as the symposium's keynote speaker.

The goal of this conference is to promote interdisciplinary discussions about the power invested in monuments and how individual attachments to them are persistently and profoundly mediated by shared group identities and will foster productive, in-depth discussions about the shared stakes of monuments. Conversations will unfold across premodern, early modern, modern, and contemporary topics, thematically linking research that might otherwise be isolated by disciplinary or historical divides.

Visual objects can serve as vital tools of social cohesion, whether through construction, destruction, modification, or translocation; monuments link shared concerns that persist across time and geologic location, from the disassembly and installation of the Elgin Marbles in London to anti-monumentality in Gu Wenda's "Forest of Stone Steles." We welcome proposals that attend to the diverse roles of visual culture as monuments to or within collectivities. Topics may include, but are not limited to:


  • Civic or religious monuments of built environments
  • Imposed identities
  • Antimonuments


  • Censorship and erasure
  • Iconoclasm

Modification of Relocation

  • Restoration campaigns and responses to these actions
  • Subaltern appropriation or utilization of public monuments
  • Artistic practices that subvert or challenge existing monuments

Theoretical Concerns

  • Alternative definitions of monument
  • Issues of monumentality
  • Contact Information:


To propose a 20-minute presentation, please send an abstract of up to 300 words and a CV to by midnight, March 30, 2018. Invitations to participate will be issues by mid-April.

Contact Info: 

Organizer: Sarah Reiff Conell