Call for Papers: Just Looking? Art, pedagogy & the object lesson in the long 19th century

Session at the Association for Art History Annual Conference. London, 5-7 April 2018

Session Conveners:
Elena Chestnova, Università della Svizzera Italiana elena.chestnova@usi.ch
Andrea Korda, University of Alberta korda@ualberta.ca

The popularity of object lessons in the 19th century attests to the fact that looking at things was not taken for granted as a straightforward or innate activity. Vision was to be educated. Its formation was embedded in a complex of senses and ‘mental faculties’, which meant that seeing involved more than just the eye; it was both multi-sensorial and multi-dimensional. Looking was not always aimed solely outwards, and the path between the subject and the object was not necessarily a direct line.

This session aims to examine the history of the object lesson – a pedagogical approach that relies on first-hand engagement with artefacts and phenomena – by inviting contributions that investigate its ‘messy’ instances. The growth of both general and artistic education in the 19th century saw the methodology of learning through things expand into new media, with images increasingly used as learning aids. Teaching activities of artists and historians led to the introduction of object lessons into artistic practices and art historical writing, and in some instances, artworks themselves became object lessons. How can we understand 19th-century object lessons in view of this growing complexity? And what are the implications for our conceptualisation of vision, which indeed ‘has a history’?

The ongoing scholarly interest in the history of education and growing attention to popular forms of art history resonate with the concerns of this session. Paper proposals are invited from a range of disciplines including but not limited to the history of art.

Please submit abstracts of 250 words maximum for 25-minute papers to both session conveners by email, including your name, institutional affiliation (if any), and the title of your proposed talk. The deadline is 6 November 2017. The session conveners will respond to successful applicants by 17 November 2017.

For more information about the conference, please follow this link.

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