Provocations for a Different Art History in a Cross-Disciplinary Context: Comparing Comparativisms

Date / Time

February 19, 2024

9:00 am - 6:00 pm

The conference is hybrid. Register for the event.

Fields as different as art history, anthropology, literary criticism, philology and law have developed ways of thinking about how cultural practices can be compared, but they have never pooled resources to discover what assumptions and strategies they might share. The study of art among Indigenous cultures has been a platform where ideas of the local are strongly articulated. This is an informal, cross-disciplinary workshop that emerges from a group project to develop an alternative history of world art and considers how different disciplines in the humanities and social sciences are thinking about comparativism.

Presenters will speak on art history (James Elkins and Ömür Harmanşah), comparative philology, comparative theology (Hugh Nicholson), comparative literature (Emily Apter), Indigenous methodologies (Margaret Kovach), comparative legal studies (Tom Ginsburg), and cross-cultural aesthetics. The afternoon will be an open panel discussion. The day is formatted as short, informal talks (10 minutes), each followed by a brief response (five minutes) and a longer discussion (30 minutes). Lunch is not provided. The conference will conclude with a general panel discussion. There will be pre-circulated papers to provide concrete reference points.

Co-organized by James Elkins, professor of art history, theory and criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Ömür Harmanşah, associate professor of art history and director, School of Art and Art History, University of Illinois Chicago.

The conference is sponsored by the UIC Institute for the Humanities and School of Art and Art History.

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