Tenth Annual Graduate Student Symposium in Nineteenth-Century Art

1 May

Spring Break is usually a quiet time in the department, since faculty and students are mostly absent. This year, however, on Friday, March 22 the department was alive with an event that brought over a hundred art historians to Silver Center. The department hosted the annual symposium of the Association of Historians of Nineteenth-Century Art (AHNCA), where graduate students writing dissertations on subjects in the “long nineteenth-century” (the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century) present and discuss their work. The event has achieved a broad following, not limited to art historians, because the papers are lively and engaging and the projects of young scholars will shape our future understanding of nineteenth-century art . The symposium is widely publicized and so proposals come in from several continents; some years half the presenters come from outside the United States, though this year the US predominated. The symposium is underwritten by AHNCA and the Dahesh Museum of Art, which provides travel funding and a cash prize of $1000 for the best paper. The resultant article is published in the on-line peer-refereed journal Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide , and its author is invited to give a presentation at the Dahesh Museum’s Salon Thursday series of lectures. This year, Sarah Schaefer of Columbia University was awarded the “best paper” prize for  “‘With the Smallest Fragment’: The Archeology of the Doré Bible,” where she examined the ways in which the new understanding of the archeological  past influenced depictions of biblical scenes, particularly those of Gustave Doré whose bible was a nineteenth-century “best-seller.” Other papers examined the works of familiar artists such as Gauguin and Renoir, and less familiar subjects such as Chinese photography and Victorian architecture; the complete program is available here. The symposium was arranged by Visiting Professor Patricia Mainardi, who is program coordinator of AHNCA, and NYU was well represented: two current IFA students, Nina E. Harkrader and Rashmi Viswanatan, presented their dissertation research and an IFA alum, Margaret Samu, PhD 2010, served on the symposium committee.

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