The Graduate Union of the Students of Art (GUStA) at the University of Toronto is pleased to present the Seventh Annual Wollesen Memorial Graduate Symposium in cooperation with the History of Art Students’ Association (HASA) and the Department of Art.

Date: March 6, 2020
Location: East Common Room, Hart House, 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto, ON M5S 3H3
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, with reception to follow

India (Rajasthan), Design of Intertwining Animals and Plants, 18th-19th Century, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Margins of Error: Otherness and the Arts

The seventh edition of the Wollesen Memorial Graduate Symposium will focus on marginalia in art history and visual culture. We define marginalia not only as the visual and textual expression on art objects’ physical peripheries, the classic example being the illustrations and notations in the margins of medieval manuscripts. Rather, we wish to expand the definition of marginalia to encompass the objects that have previously been marginalized within conventional canons and hierarchies, emphasizing the primary importance of the “other” arts and the arts of “others”.

By “other arts”, we mean those visual works that have been sidelined on the basis of perceived aesthetic value, social function, or geographical origin. By “the arts of others”, we mean work that reflects its makers’ social difference, whether classed, racial, gendered, ethnic, or sexual. We especially seek proposals that address the intersection of these two categories. This may include how socially marginalized makers have intervened in established artistic paradigms through the deployment of methods, materials, and styles deemed peripheral – or, alternately, how marginalized objects themselves generate new approaches to art history and visual culture, rendering the contributions of makers at the social periphery newly visible and reinventing accepted canons.

We encourage submissions from students and scholars from a wide array of disciplines and backgrounds beyond art history and visual culture, including those considering the visual through the lenses of anthropology, history, sociology, cultural policy, comparative racial and ethnic studies, gender and sexuality studies, literary and cinema studies, museum studies, and urban studies.

Potential Topics and Themes for presentations may include, but are not limited to:

  • Craft, applied art, design, and illustration, as well as mass-market, self-taught, and vernacular productions and practices
  • Physical marginalia and discarded or ignored artistic by-products, ranging from manuscript illuminations and 16th-century print culture to cinematic “blooper” reels and photographic contact sheets
  • The high vs. low art divide
  • The gendered, racialized, or queer status ascribed to craft and popular visual practices
  • Rethinking kitsch, camp, and other negative value judgments
  • Examination of objects and archival materials that remain unexhibited within cultural institutions
  • Exhibition practices for non-Western and applied arts
  • Exclusions within museum collecting practices, as well as alternative and unconventional collections
  • Reproductions and copies
  • Effacement and re-contextualization of objects as a countercultural, unsanctioned form of dialogue
  • Changing perspectives and methods for defining the global canon and writing global art history

Presentations should be 20 minutes in length and will be followed by a 10-minute question and answer session. The symposium will include a mix of presentations and panel discussion; chosen works may be selected for either approach. A selection of presentations will be published in the University of Toronto Art Journal, an online publication of the symposium proceedings. For more information, please visit:

Please submit an abstract (.doc/.docx/.pdf) of no more than 300 words to the Graduate Union of Students of Art at by Friday, January 10, 2020 at 5:00 pm EST. Participants will be notified by email by the end of January.

With appreciation,

Sanniah Jabeen, James Levinsohn, and Peter Sproule

Co-Chairs of the 7th Annual Wollesen Memorial Graduate Symposium