Negotiating Boundaries - The Plural Fields of Art History

Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Monday 1 July (10:00) - Tuesday 2 July 2013 (18:00)

Professor Matthew Rampley:

  • Journal of Art Historiography - 2013 Conference


  • Robert Bagley, Styles, Periods and the Life Cycle of the Goblin, (Princeton University)
  • Alice Donohue, History and the Historian of Ancient Art, (Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania)
  • Laura Camille Agoston (Trinity University, San Antonio)
  • Priyanka Basu (St Norbert College, Wisconsin)
  • Colleen Becker (Columbia University)
  • Laura Breen (University of Westminster)
  • Lesley Brubaker (University of Birmingham)
  • Antoinette Friedenthal (Independent Scholar)
  • Jannis Galanopoulos and Georgia Metaxa (University of Crete)
  • Jack Hartnell (The Courtauld Institute of Art, London)
  • Sandy Heslop and Joanne Clarke (Sainsbury Institute for Art, East Anglia)
  • Stefan Muthesius (University of East Anglia)
  • Meredith Nelson-Berry (Brad Graduate Centre, New York)
  • Heike Neumeister (Birmingham City University)
  • Amalia Papaioannou (Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University)

The formation of art history as a discipline was underpinned by the claim to a special area of expertise which, in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, was accompanied by the development of particular concepts and methods, from the formal and spatial analysis of Wölfflin, Riegl or Schmarsow to the iconology of Panofsky. Linked to the emergence of the concept of autonomous art, the establishment of the discipline was achieved by means of certain exclusions; a rigid line of demarcation was drawn between art history and archaeology, aesthetic judgments were deemed irrelevant and, in a mirroring of Kantian thought, the decorative and applied arts became the objects of a separate, less prestigious, domain of inquiry.

For all the recent talk of interdisciplinarity, these exclusions still shape the terrain of scholarship, producing numerous incongruities. Art historians still seldom discuss the applied arts, while in the Anglophone world architectural history remains a separate subject (with its own professional and discursive institutions). Prehistoric art and the art of the classical worlds are still topics mostly of interest for archaeologists rather than art historians, while the division between fine art and the applied arts has produced a caesura between the ‘traditional’ and the ‘modern’ in the historiography of, for example, the art of the Islamic world or China.

This conference is not concerned with calling for a renewed embrace of interdisciplinary thinking, but rather with considering the implications of the status quo. Why are certain art historical topics still the domain of researchers in other disciplines? What are the consequences?


  • Daily rate: £30
  • Full conference: £50
  • There is no fee for University of Birmingham students

To book your place please visit our secure online shop and follow the link to the College of Arts and Law conference and events page.

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