The Graduate Work Spotlight Series highlights the rich variety of projects and work experiences assigned to graduate students in the Art History program across the academic year. Not only does AU’s College of Arts and Science offer students a range of opportunities relevant to professional success in the field of art history and academia, but the financial support to complete their degree in a nurturing and timely manner. For this iteration of the series, we are thrilled to highlight graduate student support in honor of the Feminist Art History Conference (FAHC)–a feminist art history conference hosted every two years by the Art History Program at American University.
The Feminist Art History Conference (FAHC) builds on the legacy of the feminist art-historical scholarship and pedagogy initiated by former AU art history professors Dr. Norma Broude and Dr. Mary D. Garrard, whose feminist interventions interrupted the trajectory of male-centered art historical study in the United States and further afield. The next iteration of the conference takes place at American University on September 25-27, 2020.
Each year, the department selects a graduate student to help the FAHC coordinator and faculty committee research, organize, and plan for the conference. Adrienne Cox, a first year graduate student, currently serves as the student coordinator for the 2019-2020 school year. “I work directly with the faculty coordinators to organize submissions, manage the FAHC mailing list, and send out newsletters regarding the conference. I’ve also had a hand in researching businesses to provide the t-shirt and catering for this year’s conference,” says Cox. She hopes to continue on in the position during the fall semester, which would allow her to continue her work while the FAHC is taking place: “I haven’t really considered how the role will extend beyond this semester. I would love to continue working on this project, because I’ve enjoyed being involved with the conference this early in the planning process. I’m excited to see how far I’ll get to go with this.”
The FAHC is an exciting opportunity to share and support new research in feminist art history and network with a diverse cohort of academic colleauges and art historical researchers. As a major participant in the planning and development of the FAHC, Cox is excited to see the 2020 conference come to fruition. “I’m really excited to see how the proposals that I’ve been reading develop into full presentations. To organize the proposals, I ended up reading most of them, and the topics that have been submitted are all really interesting. These proposals have encouraged me to do more research on my own, but I’m excited to learn more from the academics who are researching the topics right now.” Cox has also enjoyed working closely with the committee members and gaining more insight into how the process of selection and participation take place. “I find it interesting to see how each committee member ranks the proposals they are reading and how those rankings become final decisions for the conference presenters.”
Planning a conference is a multi-layered project and very time-sensitive, but Cox remains excited to rise to the many challenges of her position. “So many changes have been and are continuing to happen with the scope of the position. At first I was a little worried about being able to stay organized and on task with all the different aspects of the position on top of my classes, but I think having this position actually helped me stay organized better. Working on the conference was like taking a break from class and vice versa, so I always managed to get work done on time.”
Cox encourages both returning and new students to get involved in the conference by volunteering for the event this fall semester. “The FAHC is such an amazing experience that our program provides for us, whether you’re acting as the student coordinator or just attending. I recommend the student coordinator position specifically because I’ve gained skills that are imperative in professional event planning. Basically, I’d say the FAHC is a resource for students should definitely take advantage of.”
In addition, the FAHC is hoping to provide an outlet for past conference attendees to celebrate the history of the conference and the many memories and outcomes of this special event. Cox states that “we’re still looking for past attendees and presenters to provide memories from previous conferences for our memory box! We’d love to hear what people have to say!,” says Cox. If you would like to participate, please send your FAHC memories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cox is thankful for her experience with work study. “In my experience so far, work study on campus is an amazing option for students. Since you’re working with your professors and other campus staff and faculty, they know how crazy your schedule can be, and they’re always willing to work with you to help balance work, studies, and life. It’s also a great way to gain skills for the future, such as research, communication, and organization. I would recommend that every student try a work study position if it’s available to them.”
For more information about the upcoming 7th Feminist Art History Conference, please visit: https://www.american.edu/cas/art-history/femconf/