March 22 – 24, 2019: Organized by the DB Dowd Modern Graphic History Library and the Norman Rockwell Museum, this symposium brings together scholars from across the humanities and the arts to explore the history, context, and theory of illustration in the United States from the nineteenth century to now.
As a set of practices and a cultural force, illustration emerged in the nineteenth century as a new and distinctly modern phenomenon. A vital component of the visual cultures of advertising, design, publishing, and entertainment, illustration is omnipresent in modern America. Yet its historical, contextual, and theoretical specifics—from modes of production, distribution, reception, and repetition to mandates of communication and consumption—remain relatively unexamined by scholars, art critics, and practitioners. Likewise, a taxonomy of the field—shared definitions of illustration, for example—is lacking. This symposium aims to bring together scholars and researchers across multiple fields including art history, history, visual and material culture studies, American Studies, consumer studies, book arts, childhood studies, literary criticism, media studies, and more who would like to join others in constructive conversations focused on developing the emergent field of illustration studies.