CFP (CAA 2021): “Italianicity is not Italy”: Questioning Italian Art History (Italian Art Society Session)

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CALL FOR PAPERS: IAS Session at CAA 2021 (New York, February 10–13, 2021)

“Italianicity is not Italy”: Questioning Italian Art History

Sponsored by the Italian Art Society

Organized and chaired by Tenley Bick (

DEADLINE: April 10

“Italianicity is not Italy, it is the condensed essence of everything that could be Italian, from spaghetti to painting. By accepting to regulate artificially—and if needs be barbarously—the naming of the semes of connotation, the analysis of their form will be rendered easier.” –Roland Barthes

What is Italian art history? What does it center, mask, or negate? What does Italianist art history as a practice not see about its field of study? Not unified as a nation state until 1861, Italy and what we regard and teach as “Italian” is often anachronistic. It is, and has been, the product of colonialism, fascism, and systems of power. While recent scholarship in Italian studies—on race and biopolitics, empire and mobility regimes, and postcoloniality—has shed light on Italy’s understudied and often negated histories and sites of identity, the so-called postcolonial turn has been relatively delayed in Italian art history.

Drawing its title from Roland Barthes’ famous description of “Italianicity” and the artificial and at times barbarous regulation of connotative meaning, this panel invites scholarship in Italian art history—“Italianist” or otherwise—that challenges dominant narratives of Italian Art History specifically through attention to the exclusionary discourses that undergird (and privilege) it as an area of study. Following Cristina Lombardi-Diop and Caterina Romeo’s 2014 manifesto on “the Italian Postcolonial,” this panel calls for a radical questioning of Italian art history and mapping of new critical, spatial, and temporal trajectories in Italian art history for today. Presentations on art, antifascism, and decolonization; Italy’s diasporas and understudied cultural geographies; italianità alternativa; Italy and the Black Mediterranean; postcoloniality in contemporary Italian art and cinema; art and migration in Italy; transnational and international themes; and Italy as periphery, among other topics, are all welcome. Collaborative, creative, and interdisciplinary scholarship is encouraged.

Submission Guidelines:

Please send abstracts (250 words maximum) with presentation title, name, affiliation, and a 1-page cv to Tenley Bick ( by April 10, 2020. All participants in the session must by members of the Italian Art Society and the College Art Association. Speakers must register for the 2021 conference in some capacity in order to participate in the session.