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Redefining the British Decorative Arts

Call for Papers

  • 4 August to 15 September 2020

The open access journal British Art Studies invites proposals for articles on the British decorative arts for its forthcoming September 2021 issue. 

What roles have objects, which have long been deemed as 'superfluous', played in shaping and negotiating our political, social, and economic needs, wants, and desires, both past and present? With the aim of expanding the parameters of the British decorative arts, we invite papers that explore topics on an array of materials, including textiles, dress, popular and luxury objects and furniture, from the fifteenth century to the present. Beyond the decorative arts’ traditional framework of taste, style and patronage, the issue is meant to encourage reflection on the politics, economics and social aspects of the decorative arts. How can we put terms such as the necessary and the superfluous, refinement and exploitation, or labor and sensibility, into new and productive relationships through a historical and theoretical reassessment of the decorative arts? How might our current political, social and economic crises provide new angles for exploring – or exploding – the myths of the past? We invite proposals from museum curators, public historians, art historians, cultural critics and students to explore topics related to the British decorative arts, including but not limited to: production, consumption, exploitation, exclusion, scarcity, extinction, depletion, resource extraction, recession, depression, inflation, labor, automation, protest, dissent, consent, needs, wants, and finally, desires. 

As a prelude to the special issue, a provocation and series of short responses on this subject, in response to the specific theme of 'luxury and crisis', appeared in Issue 16 (June 2020) of British Art Studies.

How to submit:

Please submit abstracts of 200 words or less to the editors at journal@paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk by Tuesday, 15 September. We will notify accepted papers by Tuesday, 6 October. The standard length for scholarly articles ranges between 6,000 and 9,000 words, and other formats are considered when appropriate to the nature of the content. Stills, moving images, 3D models and audio tracks can all be included as illustrations, and proposals that engage with the digital possibilities of the journal platform are encouraged. 

Further details:

British Art Studies is an open access and peer-reviewed journal co-published by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, and the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven. Since it was established in 2015, it has published scholarship on all aspects of British art, architecture and visual culture, from the medieval period to the present day.