Since the 1980s, the University of Chicago has made interdisciplinary graduate student-led workshops an integral part of its graduate programs.

Facilitated by the Council on Advanced Studies, workshops bring together students and faculty from the Divinity School, the Humanities Division, and the Social Sciences Division for collaborative, cross-disciplinary exchange around particular areas of interest and expertise. The workshops have become a distinctive part of the educational experience of art history graduate students at UChicago, providing a forum for presenting research and writing in progress, for students still in coursework and especially for advanced students who are working on their dissertations. Students in the Department of Art History participate and present in many workshops across disciplines.

20th and 21st Century Workshop

The 20th and 21st Century Workshop (C20/21) provides a home for questions that emerge and persist throughout the long 20th century about the relation between art and mass culture, the effects of new media technologies, and the relation between culture and politics, among others. Graduate students and faculty members across the humanities present and discuss work in progress that engages aesthetic objects, their contexts, reception, and theoretical possibilities.

African Studies Workshop

The African Studies Workshop (ASW) comprises an interdisciplinary group of students and faculty researching the peoples of Africa and its diasporas, past and present. One of the workshop’s primary goals is to elucidate Africa’s dynamic relationship to a wider world and to chart the effects of these processes in various spheres of African life.

Latin America and the Caribbean Workshop

The Workshop on Latin America and the Caribbean is an interdisciplinary forum and intellectual community for graduate students and faculty who are interested in the academic problems and literature pertaining to the region. The workshop hosts regular presentations of works in progress by students, faculty, and invited guests, as well as special events and gatherings. Participants share an interest in the history, literature, politics, culture, and social life of Latin America and the Caribbean but come from a wide range of disciplines from across the social sciences and humanities, enabling interdisciplinary conversation and exchange around questions of common interest to those whose work focuses on the region.

Mass Culture Workshop

The Mass Culture Workshop is a forum for recent and ongoing academic research on the historical, theoretical, and practical dimensions of modern mass media, including cinema, television, journalism, popular music, photography, advertising, fashion, public amusements, and computer technology. While interpretive problems presented by individual works and different types of mass media are considered, the focus rests on broader questions regarding the key role mass culture plays in the formation of contemporary public spheres. Because the scope of many forms of mass culture extends beyond the boundaries of any one discipline, the workshop is committed to interdisciplinary work.

Medieval Studies Workshop

Started in 1994, the Medieval Studies Workshop is one of the longest running and most vibrant workshops on campus. Bringing together faculty and graduate students, both from the UChicago and from the wider Chicago community, the workshop is dedicated to interdisciplinary exchange. Participants come from a wide variety of disciplines including Art History, English, Divinity, History, Music, Linguistics, Romance Languages and Literatures, and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. While workshop sessions tend to focus on the European Middle Ages, c. 500-1500 CE, the workshop has hosted speakers on related areas such as Islamic and Byzantine studies.

Research in Art and Visual Evidence

The RAVE workshop specifically features scholarship on art, architecture, media, and art criticism across divisions of geography and historical periodization. In mobilizing art historical methodologies and interpretive approaches, RAVE seeks not to foreclose other frameworks for considering visual evidence and visual culture, but rather to use the tools of art history as the generating motor to open up broader dialogues about what and how artworks mean.

Slavery and Visual Culture Workshop

The Working Group on Slavery and Visual Culture provides an interdisciplinary forum for the discussion of research on the visual imagining of slavery and the slave trade as well as on the production and use of images and material objects by enslaved peoples and slaveholders. Our goal is to explore the multivalent relationships between slavery and visuality, investigating themes such as the mechanics and disruptions of the disciplinary gaze in slave societies and societies with slaves; trans-historical comparative approaches to the study of visuality under slavery; visual culture and its connections to regimes of racialized enslavement in modernity; and the roles played by the visual logics of slavery in processes of self-fashioning and the accumulation of (visual/cultural) capital.

Students in the VMPEA workshop look at a work by Kimiyo Mishima, Untitled, 1974, Terracotta

Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia

The VMPEA workshop centers on the study of material or visual objects from East Asia. It explores the possible use of recent theories of art, history, and material and visual culture in the study of East Asia. Presentations of studies of objects, sites, visual materials, and built environments cover a variety of historical periods and geographic locations within East Asia. Flexible in how the methodologies are defined, this workshop does not limit itself to art history but also includes archaeology, anthropology, film studies, museum studies, and visual culture. The workshop invites UChicago students and faculty as well as outside speakers to participate.