Just looking? Art, pedagogy & the object lesson in the long 19th century
Association for Art History Annual Conference
Courtauld Institute of Art & King’s College London
5 – 7 April 2018
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 multidimensional. 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. The organisers invite paper proposals from a range of disciplines including but not limited to the history of art.
Please email your paper proposals to the session convenors. Provide a title and abstract (250 words maximum) for a 25-minute paper, your name and institutional affiliation (if any). Please make sure the title is concise and reflects the contents of the paper because the title is what appears online, in social media and in the printed programme. You should receive an acknowledgement of receipt of your submission within two weeks. The deadline for submissions is 6 November 2017.