Session at College Art Association Annual Meeting, New York City, February 13 - 16, 2019

Among the artifacts crafted by humankind, textiles have always held a uniquely interdependent relationship with the environment. Textiles derive from vegetal (linen, cotton), animal (wool, silk) and even mineral origins (as in the case of asbestos fibers). The production of textiles has depended upon access to and the processing of raw materials, while cloth manufacturing has reshaped entire landscapes from the transplantation of mulberry trees for sericulture to the mounds of murex shells discarded after the extraction of purple dye. Textile patterns bloomed with imagery of flora and fauna, while fabrics pervaded myths and metaphors of the natural world, as when the translucency of a veil was likened to fog, and fields of flowers were said to evoke patterned carpets. Textiles have connected distant regions, but they have also been responsible for and complicit in the enslavement of human beings, the exploitation of agricultural, artisanal and industrial labor, and the despoliation of landscapes and water resources. Despite these historical ties, the ecological humanities have mostly neglected the textile realm. This panel welcomes papers that consider the relationship between textiles and the environment from any time period and geographic region and seeks scholars who grapple with the aesthetic dimensions and ecological conditions of cloth. We hope that our panel will aid in rethinking the notion of textility – the word for any phenomenon that has, at its root, the qualities of a textile – across media and materials, and throughout the natural, built and imagined world. 

Please send 250-word abstracts and a short C.V. to Sylvia Houghteling ([email protected]) (Bryn Mawr College) and Vera-Simone Schulz ([email protected]) (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz/Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) by 6 August 2018. In preparing your abstract, please consult the CAA submission guidelines: