The word disappointment, which originally meant the dismissal of an individual from an appointed position, has come to describe the emotional impact or affect of such a removal: it can amalgamate surprise, loss, melancholy, hopelessness, anger, embarrassment, etc. Despite its familiarity, the feeling of disappointment may be so overwhelming and confusing that it is hard to identify and articulate. Such confusion may mark a productive breakdown of ideologies, when things don’t go as expected. Unlike melancholy, disappointment may be a response to a very specific loss. Like paranoia, it may engender a terrifying anticipation of possible bad outcomes. It may be directed both outward to a known perpetrator or situation, or inward like depression or shame. The shock of disappointment may identify previously unrecognized desires or may demonstrate that desires were much more powerful than previously understood until they were denied. Disappointment appears in visual art overtly in terms of, for example, sentimental nineteenth-century representational works. How else might visual art invoke disappointment? Is there a particular facial expression for this experience? How might abstraction reference it? Is disappointment purely human? What are its historical roots? What are its political and ethical implications? Following recent theoretical investigations into affect, including minor ones, by Sara Ahmed and Sianne Ngai among others, this panel seeks to explore disappointment in a broad range of art, whether in terms of a literal representation, more generalized content, or as a theoretical approach to understanding a work of art’s impact.

Proposals are due to session chairs by Monday, August 14, 2017, and should include:

  1. Completed session participation proposal form, located at the end of the CAA CFP brochure. Make sure your name appears EXACTLY as you would like it listed in the conference program and conference website. Make sure your affiliation appears as the official, recognized name of your institution and do not list multiple affiliations. No changes will be accepted after September 18, 2017.
  2. Paper abstract (strict 250 word maximum) in the form of one double-spaced, typed page with final title for paper at top of page. Make sure your paper title and abstract appear EXACTLY as you would like them published in the conference program and Abstracts 2018; no changes will be accepted from you or your session chairs after September 18, 2017.
  3. Letter explaining your interest, expertise in the topic, and CAA membership status (all participants must be current members through February 18, 2018; inactive or lapsed members will be pulled from participation by December).
  4. Shortened CV with home and office mailing addresses, email address, and phone and fax numbers. Include summer address and telephone number, if applicable.
  5. Documentation of work when appropriate, especially for sessions in which artists might discuss their own work.

Chair: Elizabeth Howie, Coastal Carolina University, ehowie[at]