Winter 2021 Call for Participation

We are seeking participants and presenters for Speaking of Art: Artist Interviews in Scholarship and Practice, a one-quarter CAS workshop running this winter quarter (January-March 2021).

Speaking of Art began as a series of roundtable discussions in the UChicago Department of Art History in winter 2018. This workshop is necessarily interdisciplinary and is geared toward scholars conducting interview-based research in fields that do not necessarily privilege these modes of fieldwork, such as the history and theory of art and music, film and media studies, history, and literature. We also invite participation from outside traditional scholarship, including artistic or curatorial practice.

This workshop provides a forum for learning practical skills and methods for interview-based research, as well as reflecting on these methods from a more theoretical perspective. Graduate students, faculty, and occasional visitors may present their projects in progress, with an emphasis on methodological approaches to working with living subjects. You may browse our past events here.

Some of the questions we are interested in include:

  • What translations, transformations, or sacrifices occur in the process of moving from oral interview to transcript to writing?
  • What are the stakes of treating interviews as evidence or as historical or artistic objects in and of themselves?
  • How do we both honor practitioners’ own descriptions of their practice while not insisting on them as the sole interpretive possibility?
  • What sorts of relationships do interviews manifest between practitioners, objects, and scholarship about them? What is the implied temporal and material link between them? What are the problems/challenges introduced by retrospective reflections on past work?
  • How do we square past and published interviews with our own?
  • What is the relationship between interviews and other types of documentation of a work, such as photographs, films, and artists’ writings?
  • What is our responsibility to the person(s) or communities we interview? In practical terms, how do we negotiate a personal relationship with a practitioner and the way we write about them?
  • What are the ethical quandaries involving interviews with practitioners whose work may not be documented elsewhere or in the traditional archival record?
  • What is the role of practitioners’ social and kinship networks in facilitating scholarship and other types of engagement (curatorial, ethnographic, etc.)?

Other questions engaging with this general constellation of topics are also encouraged.

If you are interested in presenting, please fill out this form by January 1, 2021. We welcome formal and informal presentations as well as more experimental, interactive, or collaborative sessions. All meetings will be conducted remotely via Zoom.

To stay up-to-date with our programming, sign up for our listserv here or email the workshop coordinators, Adriana Obiols ( and Zsofi Valyi-Nagy (, to be subscribed. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions.


All our best,
Adriana + Zsofi


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