Discipline and Doctrine (Chicago, October 2015)


University of Illinois at Chicago, October 22-24, 2015

Deadline: June 15, 2015

Discipline and Doctrine

organized by the Art History Graduate Student Association at UIC

This symposium pairs the terms discipline and doctrine in order to explore current challenges to the field of art history and humanities scholarship more broadly. Here, discipline means not only academic fields of study but also the effects of social structures or cultural norms and the practice and performance of everyday labor in the library, studio, and elsewhere. Doctrine implies a system of beliefs or principles subscribed to by a specific group. We invite proposals that rethink the notion of discipline by addressing its doctrinal underpinnings in social or political, theological or philosophical habit and thought.

This symposium is in honor of Peter B. Hales (1950 – 2014), who served as a professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago from 1980 to 2012. In a 1995 essay “Discipline/Survey,” Hales argued that while the discipline of art history must be constantly reconfigured to account for new and old values and approaches, it is nevertheless guided by an enduring method rooted in the rational, humanistic tradition: the rigor of observation, analysis, and critique.

However, do such methodological approaches risk the calcifying, intolerant effects of orthodoxy? Or conversely, could method provide scholars with a clear sense of their social and political purpose? Beyond the scope of art history as a field of study, political movements that operate at the intersection of aesthetics and politics push up against similar questions. Occupy Wall Street, for example, was dogged by complaints that the protestors “had no message.” Though Occupy Wall Street is now almost four years old, these complaints underscore an unresolved question: what is the value of uniting a movement or practice around a doctrine or core set of beliefs, versus refusing foundational values in favor of looser organizational structures? Are humanities disciplines today confronted with similar questions?

Papers may (but need not) address the methodological question posed above, or place artistic practices in conversation with the socio-political significance of discipline and doctrine. In the spirit of Professor Hales’ interdisciplinary scholarship, we welcome participants interested in any aspect of visual culture.

Potential topics include:

  • “Methods” papers, or papers that investigate artistic practice.
  • Concepts in tension with discipline and doctrine, such as modern flux, interdependency, interdisciplinarity, hybridity, contingency, flexible labor and precarity, risk, exchange, spontaneity, performativity, and pluralism
  • Discipline in studio practice, social practice, or performance
  • The social role of institutions such as the museum and the university in shaping discipline and doctrine
  • Academic freedom and disciplinary retaliation in the university

The deadline to submit proposals is June 15th, 2015.

To submit a proposal, please send an abstract of no more than 250 words and a CV of no more than 2 pages to ahgsauic

For more information, visit https://disciplineanddoctrine.wordpress.com/

Nicoletta Rousseva

PhD Student

Department of Art History

University of Illinois at Chicago