2021 AHGSA Graduate Student Symposium Call for Papers

Art History Graduate Student Association 45th Annual Symposium

Department of the History of Art & Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara

Call for Papers:
Haunting the Canon: The Super-phenomena in Art

Date of Conference: Friday, April 23, 2021

The University of California, Santa Barbara’s Art History Graduate Student Association (AHGSA) is pleased to announce the 45th Annual Academic Symposium: Haunting the Canon: The Super-phenomena in Art. We are honored to host Associate Professor of English at Fordham University Robb Hernández as this year’s keynote speaker. This one-day symposium will be held entirely online, conference schedule and invitation forthcoming.

Religious historian and theorist Jeffrey J. Kripal conceptualizes “super-phenomena” as that which pertain to the unknown and impossible in Western thought: “spirits, possession, vision, deification, the miraculous, magical powers, and the paranormal” (Religion: Super Religion, xviii). These otherworldly themes are the subject of recent scholarship and exhibitions, including Past Futures: Science Fiction, Space Travel, and Postwar Art of the Americas (Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 2015), Mundos Alternos: Art and Science Fiction in the Americas (UCR ARTSblock, 2017), and Supernatural America: The Paranormal in American Art (Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2020). Together, these projects generate new pathways for meaningful cultural analyses and visual dialogues that revise and haunt the canon of art history. This year’s symposium concerns a broad spectrum of super-phenomena and futurist thinking to foster alternative critical directions that move beyond colonialist conceptions of mystical, spiritual, and otherworldly subjects.

Through an interdisciplinary approach, this year’s virtual symposium seeks diverse papers that are shaping and expanding discourses on art, art history, and material culture. Our goal is to promote discussion with other fields—historical, social, political, cultural, scientific, technological—to engage new perspectives and strategies of alternate world-making.

Anticipated topics include but are not limited to:

  • Haunting, monstering, and revenge
  • Decolonial futurisms
  • Science fiction and posthumanism
  • Ghosts in the museum: politics of collecting and display
  • Theories of magic and belief systems
  • Myth, legend, and lore
  • Astrology and cosmology
  • Magic(al) Realism
  • Superstition, miracles, and ritual
  • Totems, votive practices, and relics
  • Surrealism, the psychic, and the psychological
  • Orientalism, cultural appropriation, and Western magic shows
  • Performance, theatricality, and the carnivalesque
  • Transmutation/transfiguration and alchemy
  • Liminality, thresholds, and rites of passage
  • Camp and the uncanny
  • The paranormal and extraterrestrial

We invite abstracts of no more than 300 words for fifteen-minute paper presentations. Proposals from enrolled graduate students in any discipline will be considered: MA, MFA, and PhD. This virtual conference is open to all graduate students, as well as the general public, and there is no registration fee. To apply please email an abstract and CV to Sara Morris and Elizabeth Smith at hauntingthecanon@gmail.com by Friday, January 29, 2021.

Successful applicants will be notified of acceptance by February 22, 2021. Please contact organizers Sara Morris and Elizabeth Smith with any questions at hauntingthecanon@gmail.com.