CFP: Design/History/Revolution

Deadline:  7 December 2011

27-28 April 2012

The New School, New York, New York, USA

Keynote speaker: Barry Bergdoll, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture & Design, MoMA

Whether by providing agitprop for revolutionary movements, an aesthetics of empire, or a language for numerous avant-gardes, design has changed the world. But how? Why? And under what conditions?  We propose a consideration of design as an historical agent, a contested category, and a mode of historical analysis. This interdisciplinary conference aims to explore these questions and to open up new possibilities for understanding the relationships among design, history and revolution. Casting a wide net, we define our terms broadly. We seek 20-minute papers that examine the roles of design in generating, shaping, remembering or challenging moments of social, political, economic, aesthetic, intellectual, technological, religious, and other upheaval. We consider a range of historical periods (ancient, pre-modern, early modern, modern, post- and post-post-modern) and geographical locations (“West,” “East,” “North,” South,” and contact zones between these constructed categories). We examine not only designed objects (e.g., industrial design, decorative arts, graphic design, fashion) but also spaces (e.g., architecture, interiors, landscapes, urban settings) and systems (e.g., communications, services, governments). And we welcome a diversity of disciplinary and inter-disciplinary approaches.

This conference brings together scholars from the humanities, sciences, and social sciences with designers, artists, and other creators. We hope not only to present multiple methodological approaches but also to foster conversations across traditional spatial, cultural, and disciplinary boundaries.

We list some possible subject areas, and encourage you to propose others:

  • Design and political / cultural / economic revolution….. Design and technological revolution…. Design and the print revolution
  • Design and government…. Design and social movements…. Design and surveillance…. Design and empire….
  • Design and historicity…. Design and the sacred……Design and the avant-garde…..
  • Design and memory…. Design and philosophy/philosophies of design…. Design and literature / literature of design….
  • Design and the everyday…. Design and consumerism… Design and education….
  • Designed landscapes…. Design and the environment…Design and the city….
  • Design and science … Design and cybernetics ….

Please submit a 250-word abstract (maximum) and 1-page CV to:

Laura Auricchio, Associate Professor of Art History and Chair of Humanities, The New School, NYC


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