Rutgers University Art History Graduate Student Symposium

Brigid Boyle's picture
Call for Papers
December 30, 2017
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Architecture and Architectural History, Graduate Studies


Deadline: December 30, 2017

"Making a Spectacle: Audience and the Art of Engagement"
8th Annual Art History Graduate Student Symposium
Organized by the Rutgers University Art History Graduate Student Organization (AHGSO)

Friday April 20, 2018
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Alexander Library, Pane Room
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Keynote Speaker: Professor Bridget Alsdorf, Princeton University

“The spectacle is not a collection of images; rather, it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images.” – Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, 1967

What is spectacle and how do we represent it? What is at stake in these representations? How does spectacle operate in different spaces and eras? For centuries, artists and critical thinkers have reflected on the nature of spectacle and its role within society. In a famous philosophical text, French theorist Guy Debord offered one possible definition, which highlights the impact of visual culture on communal relations. His observation remains equally relevant today, in a world saturated with images and divertissements that clamor for our attention and influence the ways we interact with each other.

With this surfeit in mind, the Rutgers University Art History Graduate Student Organization invites proposals that address any of the above-mentioned questions. Abstracts are welcome from all historical periods, geographical areas, and cultural, theoretical, and methodological perspectives. Submissions within the fields of art and architectural history, archaeology, history, and visual and material culture will be considered for 20-minute presentations in English. After the symposium, one paper will be selected for publication in the 35th volume of the Rutgers Art Review (pending the outside reader review).

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Pageants, parades, and processions
  • Role of ephemeral objects and architecture in processions
  • The ballet, theater, commedia dell’arte, and café-concert
  • Carnevale, festivals, world fairs, and other public events/exhibitions
  • Minstrelsy, masquerade, and racially charged forms of entertainment
  • Circus performers, saltimbanques, and street artists
  • The cultural phenomena of flânerie (strolling) and badauderie (gawking)
  • Panoramas, dioramas, and other technologies of spectacle
  • Performance art and audience participation
  • Public monuments and cultural heritage sites
  • Visitor engagement and display practices in museums
  • Advertising posters and other visual propaganda

Please send your abstract and a current CV to by December 30, 2017. Abstracts should be no more than 300 words. Applicants will be notified of the committee’s decision by January 15, 2018.