Call for Papers : Springtime Academy / École de printemps 2018 “Art and Politics”

Springtime Academy / École de printemps 2018

« Art and Politics »

Université Paris Nanterre, June 18-23, 2018


Call for Papers

The 16th Annual Springtime Academy (École de printemps d’histoire de l’art) organized by the International Consortium on Art History will take place from June 18–23, 2018, at the Université Paris Nanterre, on the theme “Art and Politics,” reflecting the fiftieth anniversary of the events of May 1968. This weeklong program will bring together students at the masters, doctoral, and post-doctoral levels from various disciplines and specializations to share research, working methods and experience in an international and interdisciplinary dialogue with advanced scholars and professionals. For French candidates, the Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA) will accept applications from candidates at institutions outside its network ; as for German, the German Center for Art History in Paris will provide financial help. At the conclusion of the event participants will receive a certificate of international studies in art history. Programs of previous Springtime Academies are available at Masters, doctoral and post-doctoral students are invited to submit concise presentations related to their research subjects, in any field and period of art history and in any medium.


Theme : Art and Politics

The study of the relationship between art and politics nearly always embodies a certain degree of functionalism. Evoking the “political function of art” in effect reduces its esthetic power, sacrifices form on the altar of an exterior principle, and imposes an instrumental vision onto the work of art. The notion of “propaganda,” employed extensively by historians, is emblematic of this reduction of the visual to the message imposed by the introduction of art into political history. What politics does to art thus comes to be seen as a loss — of esthetics, of form, of autonomy. The discourse thus seems in a certain sense to rehearse old disputes formerly surrounding the concept of the “social destination” of art, and to insist on the possibility of art being the last refuge of freedom.

Recent work, however, seems to point to a new type of convergence between history and the history of art that encourages us to rethink the terms of the discussion. First, political historians seem to be reconnecting to an approach informed since its inception by anthropology, in which symbols have consequences in the real world. Political rituals, emblems, and visual or artistic cultures contribute to the political act not as simple reflections or expressions of historical progress, but as factors in a complex chain of events. For these historians, the life and the power of such symbols is measured by the disruptions they create in the social world. Furthermore, the disciplines of the history of art, theater, photography, and cinema respond with renewed, reinvigorated interest for a tradition thought to be past — the social history of art — dedicated to anchoring artistic production as a discourse on art and on the historiography of political and social movements. At the intersection of these two trajectories lies a question: that of art as a means of political intervention.

If we define politics as the place of expression of dissension and disagreement, and as the moment of encounter of opposing positions, then it is possible to overcome an intentionalist view according to which art is the symbolic affirmation of power, sovereignty, and political messages, and possible to understand how art acts at the boundaries, in the zones of friction, and in the moments of conflict, how it helps us to make things public. We must reverse our perspective in order to ask, rather, what art does to politics. What transformations does art produce upon institutions, groups, parties, or social classes? We will consider several areas or approaches :

  • The production and dissemination of the signs and colors of political identities. Images and symbols define groups, draw political boundaries, guarantee the cohesion of positions. In this realm the visual produces effects that cannot be attained by language: superposition of meanings, temporal contractions, and the ambiguity of symbols and of expressions of emotion give political iconography and visual identities a specific role in the translation and dissemination of political and social positions.
  • Regimes of visibility determine the access that individuals, groups or institutions have to representation and recognition. The rendering invisible of certain groups, whether minority or majority, is part of this means of domination, such that the struggle for recognition, one of the most widespread forms of social struggles, requires access to visibility by those who are dominated. Art, like the writing of art history, is one means of expression that can tilt the scales of visibility in these struggles.
  • By the term “image-act”, recent works of art history and anthropology define the actions that images enact upon the social world. This notion describes more precisely the transmission of a power or an "agency" to the image, a process in which an individual or a group confers power upon this object to act in its place, or, conversely, to receive an action intended to strike them or those they represent. Such is the case with expressions of emotion which compel a viewer to act, as well as with portraits or caricatures that cast infamy upon the individuals represented. Iconoclasm also belongs to these image-acts, striking out at images as a means of targeting communities.
  • The geographical and social displacements of sites of power frequently stage the production of the symbolic. Artistic geographies also meet with or are in confrontation with spaces of power. The study of these displacements, as well as the implementation of the sensible expression of political dominations or oppositions, which vary according to the period, must lead to an interrogation of the role of art in these historical reconfigurations; on the question of sites of visual, oral, or corporal expressions of power; on the social, political, ethical and aesthetic issues of sharing what can be sensed; on the artistic translation of political and territorial conflicts, of peacetime battles for the definition of territories, of borders; and of the denomination of geographical spaces.

These four modes of involvement of art with politics will help us to move beyond the paradigm of "political propaganda" to contribute to the most recent developments in the history of the arts, political history, and anthropology.


Application procedure

The call for papers will appear online on the website of the Réseau (, the Université Paris Nanterre ( and its foundation (, the École normale supérieure de Paris ( and the l'INHA ( for the other French partners as well as of the other institutions of the members of the Réseau. Masters, doctoral candidates and postdocs who would like to participate are asked to submit a proposal for a paper of no more than 15 minutes, together with a short CV that includes foreign language abilities. Proposals should be no more than 1800 characters or 300 words in length and can be written in English, French, German, or Italian. They should be submitted in a Word document, and should include the name of the applicant, mailing address (electronic and postal), the institution and the country where the applicant is enrolled. The proposal and the CV should be attached as a single document to an email and identified in the subject heading by the applicant’s name and country of enrollment (file name: Proposal_First Name_ Last Name_Institution. Example: Proposal_Leon_Battista_Alberti_UNIFI). Emails should be sent to before February 16, 2018.

The proposals will be selected by the countries in the Réseau. The organizing committee, in consultation with the representatives of each member country of the Réseau, will establish the École de Printemps program. The selection of participants will be announced in early March 2018.

Nota bene: within two weeks following the acceptance of their proposal, participants will be asked to submit a translation into another of the Réseau’s official languages (German, English, French, Italian). One month before the start of the Ecole, participants are asked to send the organizers the complete text of their presentation, as well as their Powerpoint. Since participants present papers in their own language, knowledge of other languages is indispensable. Participants from Latin countries should have some command of either English or German; English or German speakers should have some command of either French or Italian.


Proposals to serve as a respondent

Students who have participated two or more times in previous Écoles are invited to serve as respondents In this way masters, doctoral and postdoctoral students whose research is well-advanced are encouraged to participate in the Écoles by leading discussion at the end of each session.

Candidates applying to serve as respondents should send a CV and a short text explaining their motivation and specific expertise, to the organizers ( before February 16, 2018.

Proposals should be no more than 1800 characters or 300 words in length and can be written in English, French, German, or Italian. They should be submitted in a Word document, and should include the name of the applicant, mailing address (electronic and postal), the institution and the country where the applicant is enrolled. The proposal and the CV should be attached as a single document to an email and identified in the subject heading by the applicant’s name and country of enrollment (file name: Proposal_First Name_ Last Name_Institution. Example: Proposal_Rosa_Luxemburg_Uni-Frankfurt). Emails should be sent to before February 16, 2018.


Proposals for papers by professors

Each year the professors of the Réseau are able to propose a paper that will provide a frame

for one of the sessions. Teachers wishing to intervene in the program are asked to contact the organisers with their intentions by email before February 16, 2018 at


National correspondents

France :

  • Frédérique Desbuissons (Université de Reims),
  • Elitza Dulguerova (Paris, INHA),
  • Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel (École normale supérieure de Paris),
  • Anne Lafont (EHESS),
  • Christian Joschke and Ségolène Le Men (Université Paris Nanterre) ;

Germany :

  • Thomas Kirchner (Paris, Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte),  
  • Michael F. Zimmermann (Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt)
  • Iris Lauterbach (Munich, Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte) ;

Italy :

  • Marco Collareta (Università degli Studi di Pisa)
  • Maria Grazia Messina (Università degli Studi di Firenze) ;

Switzerland :

  • Jan Blanc (Université de Genève) ;

Japan :

  • Atsushi Miura (Université de Tokyo)
  • Noriko Yoshida (Université Chuo) ;

Canada :

  • Johanne Lamoureux (Montréal)

United States :

  • Todd Porterfield (New York University),
  • Bronwen Wilson (UCLA)
  • Henri Zerner (Harvard University).


Organising committee

Université Paris Nanterre, HAR EA 4414
Christian Joschke et Émilie Malouvier
Mail :


Organised by

Réseau international de formation à la recherche en histoire de l’art
 – The International Consortium of Art History ( and l’université Paris Nanterre.