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CFP: “Illustration Across Media: Nineteenth Century to Now” (St. Louis, 21-23 March 2019)

The Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies at the Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and the D. B. Dowd Modern Graphic History Library at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

BACKGROUND: This interdisciplinary conference brings together scholars from across the humanities and the arts to explore the history, context, and theory of illustration in the United States from the nineteenth century to now.

As a set of practices and a cultural force, illustration emerged in the nineteenth as a new and distinctly modern phenomenon. A vital component of the visual cultures of advertising, design, publishing, and entertainment, illustration is omnipresent in modern America. Yet its historical, contextual, and theoretical specifics—from modes of production, distribution, reception, and repetition to mandates of communication and consumption—remain relatively unexamined by scholars, art critics, and practitioners. Likewise, a taxonomy of the field—shared definitions of illustration, for example—is lacking. This symposium aims to bring together scholars and researchers across multiple fields including art history, history, visual and material culture studies, American Studies, consumer studies, book arts, childhood studies, literary criticism, media studies, and more who would like to join others in constructive conversations focused on developing the emergent field of illustration studies.

Papers on the following themes are especially encouraged:

- the ways in which technological innovations shaped the practice and look of illustration from the nineteenth century to now
- the complementary nature of reading and looking in nineteenth century illustration
- image/text relationships
- how illustration shaped practices of looking in mass media
- how and why illustrations came to shape and define ideas about class, race, gender, and ethnicity
- the racial and gendered dimensions of illustration practice
- the interplay of illustration, design, and fine art in American visual culture
- illustrators and cultural agency
- the labor, practice, and economics of illustration, including the organizational worlds of agencies, studios, and publishers
- relationships between and frequent interdependence of the practices in illustration and photography
- how illustrators and agencies responded to intermittent historical, cultural, and technological shifts, for example the advent of television
- collecting illustration: buyers, donors, fans
- the history and role of archives, libraries, and museums in collecting, cataloguing, preserving, and exhibiting illustration
- evolving directions in contemporary illustration: technological, cultural, distributive

INSTRUCTIONS FOR SUBMISSIONS: Please email proposals for 15-20 minute papers, together with a 2-pp CV by November 1, 2018 to Jana Purdy, Norman Rockwell Museum, at:

Proposals should include: name, mailing address, contact number(s), email, title of paper, and an abstract—maximum 200 words—of your paper.

NOTIFICATION OF ACCEPTED PROPOSALS: Applicants will be contacted by November 26, 2018 regarding acceptance of their proposal.

Graduate students are encouraged to apply to a special “lightning” session featuring 5-minute presentations.

Learn more via the 'External Link' below.


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