CFP: Digital Approaches to Histories of Nineteenth-Century American Art

Call for Papers

Centre for American Art, The Courtauld, London
Friday 20th May 2022, 14:00-17:00 BST (provisional date)

While Covid-19 has brought the importance of digital research methodologies to the fore for many scholars, digital and computational approaches have played a significant role in the development of art history since the 1980s. Whether through data-modelling, spatial analysis, database development, or online publication, the ‘digital’ has been incredibly rich in its generative ability and has provided scholars with new – often radical – methods, outlets, and subjects. It provides possibilities to respond creatively to established historiographies, expand access, and bring about innovative approaches to art historical enquiry.

In the context of American art history, debates concerning the digital have tended to be collapsed into discussions of pedagogy, art post-1945, and Digital Art itself. In doing so, insufficient space has been given to explore the wealth of possibilities available to the historian of American art of the long-nineteenth century. Taking the years between 1789 and 1914 as its focus, this workshop seeks to explore the ways in which digital approaches to art history are informing and expanding scholarship of the nineteenth century.

Intended as a generative workshop, contributors may wish to consider why digital interventions in nineteenth-century studies are necessary and their contribution to an invigorated field, as well how they can contribute to a reconsideration of historiographies of nineteenth-century American art; how these approaches might inform a scholarship of the nineteenth century that is open, diverse, and representative; how notions of transience, movement, and exchange impacted the American art world; how digital approaches can demonstrate an increasingly networked history of the century; or, the ways in which the digital can contribute to histories which seek to disrupt distinctions, binaries, and borders.

Areas for consideration include, but are not limited to:

  • Transnationalism and artistic exchange
  • Mobility
  • Place
  • Identity
  • Modernity
  • Art markets and dealers
  • Museums, galleries, and display
  • Artistic schools, groups, and networks
  • Intersectionality
  • Methodologies

We are inviting speakers to deliver short position papers of approximately fifteen minutes, leading into thematic roundtable discussions. The event will be held online, and will be closed to the public. As such, spaces – for both speakers and participants – are limited. We are able to provide an honorarium for speakers.

We invite proposals for papers from scholars of all levels, including doctoral students. Please send a short proposal (c.300 words) to the workshop organiser Frances Varley ( by Friday 29th October, 2021.

If you have any queries regarding accessibility, a potential contribution, or any other needs or requirements, please contact the organiser.


Photograph showing two identical exhibition rooms with paintings hung on the wall and a sculpture of a woman in the centre of the room
Centennial Photographic Co., International Exhibition, Philadelphia: American Art Dept. Art Gallery (1876). Philadelphia Museum of Art. Image: Philadelphia Museum of Art.