Panel Discussion: The Monument: Past, Present, and Future

This Thursday, November 16th, Drs. Nika Elder and Sarah Gordon will host a round table discussion organized by the Art History program at American University, titled “The Monument: Past, Present, and Future.” The event will feature the following panelists:

  • Renée Ater, Associate Professor Emerita, Department of Art History and Archaeology, The University of Maryland
  • Sarah Beetham, Lecturer in American Art and Material Culture, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
  • Tristan Dominique Cabello, Director, American Studies, Critical Race, Gender and Culture Studies Collaborative, American University
  • Andrew Demshuk, Assistant Professor, Department of History, American University
  • Alma H. Gates, Chair of the Public Art Committee, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities

The conversation will be moderated by Dr. Elder, with an introduction by Dr. Gordon. After the events and conversations this summer about Confederate monuments in the United States, the panel aims to explore the past, present and future of the monument as a cultural phenomenon. The evening will offer the American University and Washington, D.C., communities an opportunity to think through the possibilities and limitations of the monument across time and space in the modern world.

Sections_and_Reflection_Ceiling_Plan_-_Washington_Monument,_High_ground_West_of_Fifteenth_Street,_Northwest,_between_Independence_and_Constitution_Avenues,_Washington,_HABS_DC,WASH,2-_(s(Image courtesy of Library of Congress)

The event starts at 6:30pm and will be held in the Katzen Recital Hall. There will be a reception after the panel concludes at 8pm. We hope to see you there!



Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Peng Curates Exhibit at Bowers Museum

This Sunday, November 12th, the exhibit “Empress Dowager Cixi: Selections from the Summer Palace” opens at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California. Dr. Ying-Chen Peng guest-curated the exhibition, which is the first time in the United States that a show has examined the Empress Dowager’s character beyond the scope of politics. While previous scholarship and past exhibitions have framed Empress Dowager Cixi’s life through her keen sense of political strategy and how she opened China’s trade routes to Europe, Dr. Peng resituates the Empress Dowager’s role as a formidable art patron and artist herself. This exhibition reimagines and reconstructs the Empress Dowager’s life at the Summer Palace through over 100 objects that have never before been exhibited in the United States.

Dr. Peng photo

Photo courtesy of Dr. Peng


Dr. Peng will be giving a talk, titled “The Matriarch is In: Empress Dowager Cixi and Her Art in the Summer Palace,” on Sunday about her work curating the exhibition. The talk will be held from 1:30-2:30pm at the Bowers Museum. Congratulations, Dr. Peng!

Dr. Jan Stuart to Deliver Lecture This Wednesday

On Wednesday November 1st, Jan Stuart, the Melvin R. Seiden Curator of Chinese Art, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, will present a talk titled, “Opulence and Influence–Lives of the Last Empresses of China (1644—1912).” In advance of an exhibition opening in March 2019 in Washington, this lecture examines the lives of empresses in China’s last dynasty, explicating their role in court politics, art, and religion. Dr. Stuart’s aim is to thereby help reclaim their presence and influence that has been egregiously ignored by history.

The Last Empresses of China is the first international exhibition to explore empresses’ participation in shaping the Qing dynasty (1644–1912), the precursor of modern China. The exhibition is a three-way collaboration between the Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, MA, and the Palace Museum, Beijing. In her lecture, through the study of specific objects—including portraits, narrative paintings, religious objects, domestic furnishings, and clothing and jewelry—Dr. Stuart seeks to reveal something of the impact and lifestyle of key empresses, while highlighting their position as recipients of the best of court art. 

Jan Stuart1

Jan Stuart, the Melvin R. Seiden Curator of Chinese Art, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Stuart lecture

Consort of the Emperor Qianlong and the future Emperor Jiaqing in his boyhood, hanging scroll, ink and color on silk, 326.5 x 186 cm

This lecture will be held in the Recital Hall of the Katzen Arts Center. The talk begins at 4pm, with light refreshments to follow.


AU Art History Graduate Students to Present at Symposium Tomorrow

On Saturday October 21st, from 10am-4pm, four Art History Masters students will present at the 15th Annual Graduate Symposium in the History of Art. The titles of the students’ papers are:

– Katherine Stephenson, “Artistotle’s Ethics in the Stanza della Segnatura: the Activation of the Soul in Pope Julius II’s Private Library”

– Amanda Chadbourne, “Virtue or Vice?: Lorenzo Lotto’s Portrait of Lady as Lucretia

– Noelani Kirschner, “Self-Fashioning on the Eve of Revolution: Adélaïde Labille-Guiard’s Portrait of Madame Adélaïde

– Victoria Proctor, “The Perfect Moment: How the AIDS Crisis and the Culture Wars Shaped Queer Museology”

Each of these papers will be drawn from the students’ ongoing thesis projects.

The symposium will be held in George Washington University’s Smith Hall of Art, Room 114. Light breakfast will be served at 9:30am, with a lunch break around 12:45pm. We hope to see you there!

Dr. Allen and Students Visit Cloisters Museum in NYC

On Saturday October 7th, Dr. Joanne Allen and students in her Gothic Architecture seminar course made the long pilgrimage to New York City to visit The Cloisters, an outpost of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For some students, this was their first time encountering genuine European medieval buildings, which, in the early part of the twentieth century, were dismantled, shipped across the Atlantic and reassembled piece by piece. They marveled at intricate stone carvings on cloister capitals, lavish reliquaries in the treasury, and, of course, the famous Merode altarpiece and Unicorn tapestries. From a museum studies perspective, they also considered issues of misleading display practices, the intersection of medieval and modern building techniques, and the ethics of divorcing buildings from their original contexts.


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Sixth Feminist Art History Conference Call for Papers

We are pleased to announce the Sixth Feminist Art History Conference will be hosted at American University, in Washington, D.C., September 28-30, 2018. 

This conference builds on the legacy of feminist art-historical scholarship and pedagogy initiated by Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard at American University.

With the goal of fostering a broad dialogue on feminist art-historical practice, the event will feature papers spanning a range of chronological, geographic, and intersectional topics. 

Papers may address such topics as: artists, movements, and works of art and architecture; cultural institutions and critical discourses; practices of collecting, patronage, and display; the gendering of objects, spaces, and media; the reception of images; and issues of power, agency, gender, and sexuality within visual cultures. Submissions on under-represented art-historical fields, national traditions, and issues of race and ethnicity are encouraged.

We welcome submissions from established and emerging scholars of art history, as well as advanced graduate students.

To be considered for participation, please provide a single document in Microsoft Word. It should consist of a one-page, single-spaced proposal of unpublished work up to 500 words for a 20-minute presentation, followed by a curriculum vitae of no more than two pages.

Please name the document “[last name]-proposal” and submit with the subject line “[last name]-proposal” to The submission deadline is December 1, 2017, and invitations to participate will be sent by February 1, 2018.


Details of the Event:

Keynote speaker: Amelia Jones, Robert A. Day Professor in Art and Design and Vice-Dean of Critical Studies at the Roski School of Art and Design, University of Southern California.

Sessions and keynote address will be held on the campus of American University

Sponsored by the Art History Program and the Department of Art,College of Arts and Sciences, American University

Organizing committee: Joanne Allen, Juliet Bellow, Norma Broude, Kim Butler Wingfield, Nika Elder, Mary D. Garrard, Helen Langa, Andrea Pearson, and Ying-chen Peng