Illustration Studies: New Approaches, New Directions
The Sixth ILLUSTR4TIO Conference
22-24 April 2020
Luisa Calè (Birkbeck, University of London)
Julia Thomas (Cardiff University)
Co-organisers: Christina Ionescu (Mount Allison University, Canada) and Ann Lewis (Birkbeck, University of London)
Illustration Studies has, in recent years, emerged as a new and vibrant discipline with its own journals, book series, conferences, websites, and research networks. The renewed interest and dynamic research in this field of study follows a period of long neglect by scholars, resulting from the uncertain cross-medial status of illustration and its position between disciplines. Indeed, the frontiers of this discipline remain nebulous and its terminology, key issues, and critical methods are in need of re-evaluation. By its very nature, illustration opens up a number of fundamental questions regarding the relation between text and image, the illustrated book and visual culture, artistry and reproduction.
Is illustration by definition text-inspired and connected to a material book? Can its images also be considered within a uniquely visual field of reference and how does this affect its signifying potential? Should one consider illustration as a form of adaptation? Do theorists, scholars, practitioners, and educators share the same view of illustration? Does the art of illustration deserve more scholarly recognition across disciplines than its utilitarian and commercial products (and how has this changed over time)? Embedded in a context of production and connected to a text to a variable degree, illustration is a medium with its own conventions, traditions, and signifying practices that currently requires in-depth and interdisciplinary reconsideration as an object of study. A re-evaluation of illustration as a medium and of Illustration Studies as a discipline must also take into account new directions in the training that illustrators-to-be receive. All of these questions can be understood historically – so the idea of ‘New Directions’ can be addressed in respect of the contemporary state of Illustration Studies – but also in terms of significant shifts in the way that illustration has been understood and approached in other periods.
Papers that propose a reassessment of illustration across different fields of research, that theorise interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approaches, or that chart new directions in Illustration Studies, are of particular interest to the conference organisers. Avenues for reflection include, but are not limited to, fresh perspectives on:
- key concepts in the theory and practice of illustration (including its changing relation to notions of intermediality, intervisual paradigms, and adaptation);
- the evolving place of illustration (in the history of the book, in the history of art, in the study of visual culture, in literary studies, and/or in the digital humanities);
- the question of illustration in different genres and media;
- the changing relation of text and image in illustration: issues of hierarchy, fidelity, intertextuality and intericonicity;
- the impact of new technologies (contemporary and in the past) on the practice and reception of different forms of illustration;
- practical applications: e.g. illustration as a means of branding and consumer studies, pedagogical uses of illustration, or the professional training of the illustrator today;
- illustration in the global context, in different national cultures, or as a cross-cultural force.
In keeping with Illustr4tio’s aim to animate a dialogue between practitioners and critics, proposals are invited from illustrators, authors, printmakers, publishers, curators, collectors, and researchers. Papers can be presented in English or French. Proposals (500 words), accompanied by a bio-bibliographical note (100-150 words), should be sent to Christina Ionescu (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Ann Lewis (email@example.com) by March 15, 2019. (An early decision can be made upon request to support applications for conference travel.) The publication of a selection of revised papers is envisaged.
Sophie Aymes (Université de Bourgogne)
Nathalie Collé (Université de Lorraine)
Brigitte Friant-Kessler (Université de Valenciennes)
Christina Ionescu (Mount Allison University)
Maxime Leroy (Université de Haute Alsace)
Ann Lewis (Birkbeck, University of London)