CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

About History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed


Schedule of Session 10.pdf


Schedule of Session 10.jpg

The theme of the symposium (‘Terms: Concepts of Art History’) serves as a starting point for exploring the implications of the terms ‘feminism’, ‘gender’ and ‘queer theory’ for the discipline. Through a discussion of specific case studies, participants in this session are invited to explore how a focus on gender can enable new understandings of art of the past as well as concerns that have underpinned much art practice since the 1970s.


Two sub-themes feature as the focus of the session, and participants are asked to submit papers which fall within the framework of either of these:


I. Globalising gender studies, feminism and queer theory: Studies in which there is a focus on gender and which are directed at practitioners from the past and present in the United States, Britain and Western Europe have been complemented by work on artists from other geographies. But the date when works of art or studies underpinned by a focus on gender emerged, the form these discourses assumed and their overall impact differ from one context to another, and are nuanced by the particular political and social circumstances of the country concerned. Yet while it is generally acknowledged that concerns with gender have had a ‘global’ impact on art, the ways in which such concerns have manifested themselves in different geographies has at this point not been widely documented or discussed in international forums, and knowledge of work from contexts outside the United States, Europe and Western Europe tends to be somewhat limited or partial for most art historians who are not themselves from the countries concerned. In a move to address this gap in art historical discourse, papers are invited which, through selected examples, explore the implications of what feminism, queer theory or gender studies may have meant in the context of art histories and art-making practices outside the United States, Britain and Western Europe (or for diaspora artists in the West). Proposals for papers pertaining to all geographies outside the West are welcome, and those focused on Asian contexts are especially encouraged.


II. Gender and the re-reading of art histories: While early feminist work often focused on including hitherto neglected women artists in art history, subsequent feminist discourse as well as studies falling within the rubric of queer theory have focused increasingly on ways in which the style, subject matter or use of art objects might be interpreted in light of the gender politics operative within various historical periods and contexts. By bringing to light gendered concepts which may have informed the circumstances underpinning the making of art, or which may have had a bearing on style or subject matter, studies of gender may do more than simply widen knowledge about image-making practices in the past to take cognisance of, for instance, relations of power between men and women, the kinds of constructs about ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ which held sway, or attitudes towards same-sex relationships in particular timeframes and geographies: such studies may also in fact prompt a total revision in prior conceptions about the social and cultural contexts in which those objects and images were produced and the role they may have played. Working in light of this observation, papers are invited which undertake new readings of selected art works, revealing how interpretations of images and objects in light of a politics of gender have the potential to create very different readings to those which have tended to dominate art-historical canons.