Call for Papers – Prints in Books: The Materiality, Art History and Collection of Illustrations

2017 Association of Art Historians annual conference
Loughborough University, 6-8 April 2017

Call for papers for all-day session

Prints in Books: The Materiality, Art History and Collection of Illustrations
Convenor: Elizabeth Savage, Cambridge University,

Deadline: 7 Nov 2016

Book illustrations, especially from the hand-press period (1450-1830), are an essential but traditionally overlooked source of art historical information. Although the hierarchies of fine art over popular art are dissolving and modern disciplinary distinctions between text and image (or art and book) are giving way to cross-disciplinary and holistic approaches to printed material, printed images that happen to be inside books often fall outside the remits of art historical, literary, bibliographical and material research.

One reason is that practical and academic barriers impede access to the art historical information that book illustrations can provide. Due to incompatible cataloguing standards adopted by libraries and art museums, researchers can struggle to identify book illustrations across collections. Cataloguing protocols may reduce hundreds of significant woodcuts in a book to the single word ‘illustrated’; some world-leading graphic art digitisation initiatives exclude book illustrations. As the global digitised corpus expands, will book illustrations be more represented in print scholarship or will they continue to fall into the gap between art and book? As material objects and visual resources, should they be considered bibliographical, art historical or iconographical material? And how do such classifications influence their interpretation?

This interdisciplinary, all-day session seeks to establish a platform for discussion about the position of printed book illustrations in graphic art scholarship. Theoretical and object-based papers related to any aspect of collecting, cataloguing and interpreting printed book illustrations, broadly defined, are welcome, as are papers that explore the materiality, iconography, historiography or art history of pictures printed inside books.

Please email 250-word paper proposals, including your name, affiliation and email, to the convenor by 7 Nov 2017. Full proposal guidelines at

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