CALL FOR PAPERS: Virginia Commonwealth University's Art History Graduate Student Conference, "Materializing Memory: Revision, Revival, and Recuperation"

Naomi Edmondson's picture
Call for Papers
April 11, 2020
Virginia, United States
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, American History / Studies, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Humanities, Public History


Materializing Memory: Revision, Revival, and Recuperation


Virginia Commonwealth University, Department of Art History, Richmond, VA

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Deadline to Submit: Monday, January 20th, 2020



Virginia Commonwealth University’s Art History Graduate Student Association is pleased to announce its 24th graduate student conference, Materializing Memory: Revision, Revival, and Recuperation.


The themes of this conference can be introduced by the visual signifier of the Sankofa, an image of a bird that carries an egg in its beak while its head turns backwards and its feet face forward. Sankofa, which traditionally translates to “go back and fetch it,” functions as a visual reminder that as the forward march of time continues, moments and lessons from the past must be picked up and carried with us. Visual artists deal with this contemplation and reconsideration of the past in myriad ways. For example, Kehinde Wiley’s 2019 monumental sculpture, Rumors of War, which was installed at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts this December, enacts a dialogue with Richmond’s Monument Avenue by appropriating, revising, and problematizing the visual language of the controversial historical monument of Confederate general J.E.B Stuart. By exploring such visual signifiers of memory and critical dialogues, the conference will address themes of revival, revision, and recuperation, tackling questions of how artists and institutions alike have reimagined and reengaged with the past. Whether contemplating individual or larger historical memory, examining the ways in which memory comes to be materialized, tangible, or recorded provides insight into how history has been written and subsequently re-written, what remains to be done, and the value of personal and historical moments and memories to humanity.


Anticipated paper topics include but are not limited to:


  • Revisions of the past and visions of alternate futures 

  • Redefining and/or broadening the art historical canon

  • Addressing historical omission (recuperation)

  • Reclaiming memory

  • Art as social critique

  • Materiality of memory (materiality as evoking memory)

  • Stylistic/thematic revival 

  • Monumentalizing and memorializing 

  • Visual signifiers of memory

  • Persistence of troubling histories


We are honored to host Dr. Evie Terrono, Professor of Art History at Randolph-Macon College, and author of “Performance, Political Discourse, and the Problematics of the Confederate Flag in Contemporary Art” as our keynote speaker this year.


This call for papers is open to graduate students studying art history, museum studies, and visual studies. Conference attendance is open to all students, VCU staff and faculty,VMFA staff, as well as the friends and relatives of presenters. There will be no registration fee. This event is entirely student-generated and organized by VCU’s Art History Graduate Student Association.


We invite abstracts between 300-500 words, for 20 minute presentations. Please email an abstract and a CV to by Monday, January 20, 2020. Successful applicants will be notified of selection by Monday, February 10, 2020. Selected participants will need to provide full drafts of papers and accompanying slideshows by Monday, March 23, 2020.


The conference will take place on Saturday April 11, 2020 at Virginia Commonwealth University’s James Cabell Library.


Contact Info: 

VCU's AHGSA President: Naomi Edmondson

Contact Email: