CFP: US Art and Critical Whiteness Studies at CAA 2023

U.S. Art and Critical Whiteness Studies: Looking Back, Looking Forward
Session will present: In-Person

James W. Denison
Email Address(s): jwden@umich.edu

More than fifteen years have passed since the publication of Martin Berger’s Sight Unseen: Whiteness and American Visual Culture, which was widely celebrated for bringing a promising new category of analysis, critical whiteness studies, into the discipline of U.S. art history. However, despite its potential to speak to issues of social stratification and power at the core of the history and historiography of U.S. art, critical whiteness studies has yet to become a regular component of the analytical toolbox employed by scholars of American art. Recent years have seen a spate of scholarship focused on white supremacism and eugenics in U.S. art, but incorporation of the insights of the broader field of whiteness studies, especially regarding more everyday forms of racial bias and self-understanding, remains infrequent and haphazard. How have American artists of various backgrounds visually articulated “whiteness”, and how can we historicize such articulations? How have artists propelled or stymied prejudice through their representations of “white” people? How has whiteness affected how artists represent racialized people, places, and objects? How has it intersected with other forms of identity, including ethnic, gender, and class identities? Finally, what has kept critical whiteness studies from entering the mainstream in art history, a field so long dominated by white artists and scholars? This session seeks to analyze and address these and related questions, inviting papers that examine the past and future of whiteness as a subject of analysis in American art studies and/or offer new directions for such investigation.

Potential topics for papers might include:
·         The history and future of critical race art history
·         Whiteness and nationalism in the history of American art history
·         Whiteness, the art world, and elitism/class concerns
·         Relationships between critical whiteness studies and other forms of critical race studies within art history
·         The invisibility of whiteness/the visualization of whiteness
·         Whiteness and ethnicity/historicizing whiteness
·         Whiteness and gender, including masculinity, femininity, and feminism

·         Whiteness and modernist primitivism

Author: Camara Dia Holloway

I am an art historian specializing in early twentieth century American art with particular focus on the history of photography, race and representation, and transatlantic modernist networks. I earned my PhD at Yale University in the History of Art Department. Besides my leadership role as the Founding Co-Director of the Association for Critical Race Art History (ACRAH), I am recognized for my expertise on African American Art, particularly African American Photography, and as a seasoned consultant for exhibitions, museum collections, and symposia/lectures planning.

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