Call for Book Chapters: “Advocating for Art History”

Vernon Press invites book chapter proposals to be included in a forthcoming scholarly volume edited by Cindy Persinger, Jennifer Kingsley, and Rose Trentinella. The media and higher education agree: the humanities and especially the field of Art History appear to be in crisis. Dropping enrollments, program closures and lay-offs, student anxiety about career preparation, the instrumentalization of education, and political attacks on colleges and universities are pressuring art history in complex and insidious ways. Responses from art historians on these and related issues include David Breslin’s and Darby English’s 2016 publication Art History and Emergency: Crises in the Visual Arts and Humanities; the College Art Association’s (CAA) 2018 guidelines for addressing proposed changes to art, art history, or design units in colleges and universities; Leda Cempellin’s chaired panel at SECAC 2022 titled “Saving Art History From Extinction;” and, in 2023, a CAA panel organized by this volume’s co-editors called “Advocating for Art History.”


Our aim is to produce an edited volume that articulates the value and impact of art history, offers proven strategies for demonstrating its value and impact to stakeholders within as well as beyond academe, and/or explores and raises new questions about the stakes and ethical considerations of our response to contemporary pressures as a discipline.


Demonstrating value and relevance is nothing new for art history: the discipline took shape in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries under pressure to earn its place both as an intellectual project and as a social good. More than a century later, new pedagogies in the undergraduate classroom, curricular reforms at colleges and universities, renewed emphasis on interdisciplinary training and versatility in graduate education, and increasing political scrutiny offer opportunities to reflect on why art history matters: to articulate core values and responsibilities, to consider what art history and its most innovative practices look like, and to imagine future practices that align with disciplinary, institutional, even personal values. 


We welcome submissions representing perspectives from across varied types of academic institutions (private or public, 2 or 4yr, those with dedicated history programs/departments or not etc…), as well as perspectives from outside academe. We welcome authors from all parts of higher education, including contingent, tenured, tenure-track and non-tenure-stream faculty, as well as students, academic leaders, administrators and staff.


We welcome papers treating any aspect of our broad topic and have identified three general thematic areas into which papers may (but need not) fall:


  • essays that address advocacy for art history within the classroom:
    • critical pedagogy and art history (such as the role of critical analysis, moral judgment, and social responsibility, among others)
    • socially engaged pedagogy
    • slow-looking strategies and their benefits beyond the classroom/ discipline
    • course assignments that address the relevancy of art history for society
  • essays that address advocacy within higher education:
    • “big-data” and other data-driven or “meaningful” decision-making as related to art history in higher education
    • the “vocationalization” and/or “instrumentalization” of higher education as related to art history or of the discipline of art history itself
    • roles of faculty, management, and leadership in curricular decisions related to art history
    • place of art history courses in general education/core curriculum/shared experience requirements
    • the potentiality of art history (e.g. “possible futures” of the discipline)
    • DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) as it relates to art history
  • essays that address advocacy beyond higher education:
    • assignments or coursework involving collaborations with institutions or communities outside of higher education
    • case studies of collaborative projects or programs with social and/or health benefits
    • information pertaining to arts organizations outside of higher education that serve as advocates for art history (such as museum education, programming, curating, etc.)
    • topics pertaining to building relationships between higher ed, art museums, and communities, among others


We are open to chapters of varied length and voice as appropriate to the author’s preferred theme and topic. Please submit a short CV and 500-word proposal that identifies your chosen sub-topic, theme, or topic to co-editors Cindy Persinger, Jennifer Kingsley, and Rose Trentinella at by November 30, 2023.

This proposal is due on October 30th 2023.

Page last updated on October 26th 2023. All information correct at the time, but subject to change.