The Carleton Art History Graduate Students' Society (AHGSS) is pleased to present "Beyond Compare: Rethinking Comparative Frameworks in Art History," a conference to be hosted at Carleton University on March 13th and 14th, 2020, located on unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe territory (Ottawa, Ontario).

The discipline of art history was originally built on a foundation of Eurocentrism; that is, a binary framework consisting of a European centre and so-called "non-Western" peripheries. This foundation has given rise to a network of subsequent methodological approaches and comparative modes of discourse, many of which perpetuate this Eurocentric narrative and the hierarchical power structures that come with it. As the discipline evolves to disrupt the centre-periphery model, it is necessary to rethink the manner in which we utilize comparison as a tool in scholarship. Comparison, as it has historically been practised, inevitably connotes an unequal juxtaposition, in which one subject is held up as the model against which a second subject is compared. In art history specifically, comparison has also tended to assume a degree of universal commensurability, which results in two things being compared according to a set of "Western" formalist standards, obscuring nuance and shunting marginalized narratives further to the periphery in the process. While intrinsically tethered to colonial narratives, these kinds of comparative frameworks extend to other areas of the field as well, including issues of gender, class, and ideology.

How can we use comparison in art history in a way that not only avoids these pitfalls but actively subverts the centre-periphery model? With this in mind, the AHGSS's conference committee invites paper proposals that challenge, in methodology and/or subject, traditional approaches to comparison and the limiting binaries they can present. We encourage submissions on topics relating to art, architecture, history, film, music, and beyond, addressing themes including but not limited to:

  • Comparison in a transnational and transcultural context
  • Cultural borrowing and appropriation
  • Orientalism and primitivism
  • Global art history
  • Decolonization
  • Postcolonial theory
  • Intersectionality
  • Incommensurability (of aesthetics, language, etc.)

Proposals must be sent to [email protected] by December 1. In the body of your email, please include your name, institutional affiliation, and a short biography (100 words or less) or CV. Please attach your abstract (300 words or less) with a paper title, and a short list of keywords, as a PDF file. Papers will be selected through a blind jury process. They must be original and previously unpublished. Presentations will be 15 to 20 minutes in length followed by a panel Q & A session. The keynote lecture (TBA) and social will be held on Friday evening at the Carleton Dominion Chalmers Centre, while paper presentations will take place on Saturday in the same location. Selected speakers will be notified by December 16.