Every year, the Carleton Art History Graduate Students’ Association organizes a conference bringing together scholars from around Canada to present their current research in a collegial intellectual environment. This year’s conference, Beyond Compare, revolves around the theme of comparison and how it has historically been used in the discipline of art history. This year we would like to expand the scope of the conference to welcome speakers from around the globe, but as our budget is largely dependent on our own fundraising efforts, any donation, however small, is appreciated! For more information, please access the Call for Papers here.

The Background

With Beyond Compare 2020, the Art History Graduate Students’ Society (AHGSS) seeks to facilitate discussions that will help reframe and rethink the ways in which we think about art history. The discipline was originally built on a foundation of Eurocentrism; that is, a binary framework consisting of a European centre and so-called “non-Western” peripheries. Comparison, as it has historically been practiced, inevitably connotes an unequal juxtaposition, in which one subject is held up as the model against which a second subject is compared. In art history specifically, comparison has also tended to assume a degree of universal commensurability, which results in two things being compared according to a set of “Western” formalist standards, obscuring nuance and shunting marginalized narratives further to the periphery in the process. While intrinsically tethered to colonial narratives, these kinds of comparative frameworks extend to other areas of the field as well, including issues of gender, class, and ideology.

By questioning these frameworks, we hope to work towards a future in the field in which such hierarchies no longer exist, and previously marginalized narratives are given their own due weight in art historical discourse. This is just one small way in which our little pocket of academia can do its part in working towards a more egalitarian world.

The Rollout

Funds raised will go towards ensuring that this conference and each conference that follows is successful for years to come! This is an opportunity for students and researchers from Carleton and other institutions and geographic locations to meet, interact and learn from each other. This conference will not only benefit Carleton Art History students, but also scholars who engage in the study and practice of art. This will provide students and faculty with the opportunity to engage in the exchange of ideas through presentations of original research. Furthermore, the conference is organized exclusively by Carleton graduate students, giving us the experience to plan and execute a successful conference in an academic space and communicating with other scholars and professionals.

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