Conf/CfP - Vital Constitutions: The Appearance of "Health" in History, 13-14 October 2017, USA

Publish Date: Apr 13, 2017

Deadline: Jun 16, 2017

Vital Constitutions:

The Appearance of "Health" in History

October 13-14, 2017 | Rice University | Houston, TX

Call for Submissions

Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference

Deadline June 16, 2017

Rice University  |  Houston, Texas

Hosted by the Department of Art History

Rice University’s Department of Art History is delighted to introduce its inaugural graduate conference, Vital Constitutions, which seeks to problematize the nature of “health.” All living forms—from biological to social bodies—realize unique ways to survive and at times thrive in tenuous and hostile environments. Vital Constitutions aims to explore the conference title broadly in relation to structures by which bodies, communities, societies and environments have adapted, and been sustained, when such structures become precarious. We hope to challenge claims of normativity by considering how objects, institutions, and the “natural” environment affect conceptions of vitality. Questions for consideration include: How have representations of the well, the sick, treatment, and contagion been visualized? In what ways have discursive languages surrounding “health” expanded and contracted, and to what societal effect? How do terms such as “anthropocene,” “global warming,” “climate change,” or “preservation” impact ecological debates and actions? When and through what methods have humans placed needs for “health”—be it of the biological or social body—above all else? How have artists, scientists, activists, grassroots leaders, and intellectuals grappled with representations and realities of care and castigation visually and conceptually across time and geography?

Potential points of exploration include but are not limited to the following terms:

Alternative spaces or communities                        

Art and neoliberalism                      

Avant-Garde and canon                                          



Disease and cure                                          

Drug use and policing    

Food economies                                                        

Gender and sexualities                        

Hygiene and filth                                                           


Labor and insurance                                                            

Niche construction                                                

Normativity and “Other”


Recreation and play 

Rehabilitation (of land or the body)

Representation and the invisible

Self-care and apathy                      

Social practice

Social reform movements                                                    

Surgery and intervention                                    

Urban planning and transient housing

This conference intends to have an accessible and inclusive structure within and beyond academia. Our aim is for an experimental and collaborative forum that presents not only graduate papers, but also art objects, time-based media, and relics of visual culture. Artists, activists, and scholars will join the public beyond university walls to engage with a local institution or community project. A public roundtable will consolidate ideas, arguments, and strategies explored over the course of the weekend.

Please send submissions by June 16, 2017. For paper presentations, please send a 250-word abstract or description and curriculum vitae (limited to 3 pages or less). For artist submissions, please send JPEGS and/or mp3 or mp4 files (include title, work date, process, dimensions, and medium) and a curriculum vitae (Dropbox and other FTP links will not be reviewed). All proposals should be submitted online. Lastly, we are able to offer limited support for travel to participants on a need basis, to be determined after selection of papers.

For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.

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Eligible Countries


Host Countries

United States

Conference Types

Call for Papers