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Call for Papers — Graduate student conference “In the Distance”

October 6, 2009

In the Distance

Research in Progress 2010: February 27, 2010

Graduate Student Conference

History, Theory, and Criticism of Art and Architecture @ MIT

Cambridge, MA

The general perception is that intellectual and creative production outside of major cultural centers necessarily defines itself in relationship to these centers. Moreover, the relative paucity of material resources and opportunities available in these remote areas seems to aggravate cultural dependence. But is this the only possible perspective on the effects of this geographical and psychological remoteness?

In the Roots of Romanticism, Isaiah Berlin suggested that German culture, being peripheral to the European intellectual life of the eighteenth century, had to define itself in opposition to the dominance of French culture. It was this negative self-identification that resulted in the birth of the Romantic movement.  The 2010 Research in Progress Conference, likewise, proposes that this condition of dependence, generated by geographical distance, can be stimulating, productive, and sometimes even liberating.

How and by whom are such notions as “periphery” and “province” constructed? How does the acceptance or denial of one’s own “provincialism” influence identity and culture in general? What are the factors that produce cultural distance and why does it still exist in our contemporary high-speed and digital world?  These are a few of the many possible questions our conference hopes to address.  We encourage presentations that discuss various episodes in the history of art, architecture and culture in general, which may include such topics as European colonial empires, diasporas of war, and the effects of exile, mistranslation, migration and separation in aesthetic practices.


November 15: Abstract submission (maximum 300 words).  Please send abstract and a short cv via email in word or pdf format to

December 1: Participants notified.

January 31: Paper submissions due (2500 words, 20 minute presentations)

February 27: Conference.

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