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CFP: Reconsidering the Imaginary of the Ruin: Emancipation, Subversion, and Resistance from the Nineteenth Century to Today (CAA, Chicago, 12–15 Feb 2020)

When Notre Dame went up in flames, news and social media erupted with tributes, photographs, and memories of the famous monument. Perhaps more captivating than the event itself were the images that followed: a pile of smoldering wreckage lying before the ornamental altar or the cathedral’s burning spire tumbling amidst plumes of smoke. Suddenly, a bastion of artistic accomplishment was transformed into a jarring reminder of impermanence. The imagery of ruins exists as a particular kind of memento mori; an imprint of the passage of time, it functions as a point of contact with the past, while also referring to an elusive future where our monuments collapse, transform, are reimagined, or rebuilt.

This session considers the discourse of ruin as a subject, metaphor, and process. Past scholarship has examined the relationship of the ruin to modernity, industry, and the environment. Expanding the conversation, we invite papers that consider how ruin can be understood as a site of obsession, production, or emancipation. We welcome projects that look at the construction, reproduction, and dissemination of ruin imagery as a dialogic and social endeavor. Papers may ask how the ruin functions as political subversion or a modality for protest or resistance, and conversely how it is also used to shore up dominant ideologies. This session also intends to examine the ruin outside of so-called “western” narratives and consider why ruination outside of the global north has largely been ignored. This panel reconsiders the pivotal role of the ruin in art and architecture history.

Chairs: Ewa Matyczyk ( and Caitlin Dalton (

To submit a paper proposal, please email the following (with subject: “APS CAA 2020 submission”) to Caitlin and Ewa before July 23, 2019:
- Completed proposal form (Please visit the 'External Link' below to to download)
- A shortened CV (close to 2 pages)

All session participants must be CAA members. Please note that a paper that has been published previously or presented at another scholarly conference may not be delivered at the CAA Annual Conference.

Please visit the 'External Link' below for more information, including submission guidelines (top of the page) and a link to the CAA proposal form.
Relevant research areas: Baroque, 18th Century, 19th Century, 20th Century

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