The Style of Indiana

Erin Kelley's picture
April 9, 2021
Indiana, United States
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Humanities, Theatre & Performance History / Studies, Urban History / Studies

Indiana Style: An Arts and Humanities Symposium


Indiana University Bloomington is pleased to announce a call for papers for “Indiana Style: An Arts and Humanities Symposium,” the second annual conference dedicated to exploring and celebrating the Hoosier state. It will be held April 9-10, 2021, in Bloomington, Indiana.


Outside of Indiana, say our name and you conjure up images of cornfields, limestone quarries, and basketball hoops mounted on sides of red barns. Within the state, we know our style is more varied, complex, and refined. For the last year, an assembled team of scholars and artists has been working to define the style of the Hoosier state through discussion of painting, sculpture, music, dance, literature, fashion, and many other cultural forms. Born out of a grant-funded research team, “Indiana Style” intends to expand on the questions that have arisen in our conversations. We will be featuring performances and artistic installations alongside more traditional academic presentations.


The planning committee is currently accepting proposals for individual papers and panel discussions. Anything Indiana goes, but we’re thinking especially about presentations that address issues and questions of style. Scholars and artists from everywhere are invited to tell tales on this state of ours. Topics to consider are:

  • Midwestern Styles – How do Hoosiers represent themselves? How do they stylize their bodies and lives? Through clothing, gesture, speech or art and texts? How do depictions of the heart of the heartland reflect or inform our culture, values, and politics? Do we consider our style as regional or national? Can we be both?
  • Imaginary Indiana – We tell ourselves a lot of things about Indiana that aren’t always true. What do our imaginary versions of Indiana offer us? Art and literature created in and about our state allows us to envision alternative versions of the state; how have these versions altered our reality, our perception?
  • Hoosier Artists – Who is a Hoosier artist? How have different creators who have Indiana roots contributed not only to the style of this state, but their disciplines on a larger scale? What does creative practice look like from a Midwestern or rural perspective? Is there a place here for young creators? For underrepresented artists?
  • Localism – In a state of small towns with hometown heroes and local legends, how does localism (for better or worse) influence Hoosiers? What does it mean to keep an eye on the local in an age where we can be connected to people around the world instantly? How have different media and technologies shaped the style of the state and its transmission?
  • Methodology – Is there something creative or generative about how we study the place we live? What defines the relationship between scholar and region and how do categories of taste and value inflect it? How do we engage in alternative acts of expression under the auspices of study and scholarship?

Of note: we are not wedded to the traditional model of presenting a paper or a book chapter or giving a lecture. If you want to lead a conversation, build a temporary installation, or exhibit a work or collection, we see the academic merit in those things. Write a proposal and tell us why. Research should be collaborative and inclusive and interesting. The presentation of it should allow for a moment of discovery and delight.


We celebrate humanities and the scholars working in those fields. We are also interested in researchers from fields who may not traditionally consider themselves as belonging to humanities, like anthropology and public health. Outside perspectives can often give us a clearer view of ourselves.


Proposal should include the following: the author’s name, rank, and academic affiliation (when applicable); a complete cv or resume; and a titled abstract of 250-500 words. If you are planning to present an artistic work, please also include a portfolio (a link to an online one is fine) and an artist statement. The deadline for submissions is December 4, 2020, and should be sent to

Contact Info: 

Erin Kelley 

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