MA Art History Symposium

The Annual Graduate Symposium in the History of Art is sponsored by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and University of Alabama Joint Program for the MA in Art History. It alternates each year between the UAB and UA campuses. The symposium is an all-day event at which M.A. students give papers, followed by a keynote lecture. Begun in 1995, the symposium offers students the opportunity to present their research in a setting of their peers and distinguished scholars in the field of art history.

The 2018 Graduate Symposium in the History of Art will be held Friday, February 23, 2018. Graduate students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Alabama, along with grad students from neighboring universities, will present papers on a wide range of themes in art history, and undergraduate art history students will present a lunch-time poster sessions.

The Symposium will feature a keynote talk by Dr. Meryl Bailey at 6 p.m., preceded by a reception at 5:15 p.m. Dr. Bailey will be speaking about cultural heritage, art, and the law in a lecture titled, “Returning the Past: Cultural Heritage, Ethics, and the American Museum in the Twenty-First Century.”

Meryl Bailey (PhD, UC Berkeley; JD, Harvard Law School) is Assistant Professor of Art History at Mills College in Oakland, California. A specialist in the Italian Renaissance, she teaches courses on medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque art, and seminars on art and the law. Dr. Bailey is particularly interested in the intersection of visual culture and criminal justice in Venice. Recent publications include “Punishment as Brotherly Love: Antonio Zanchi’s Expulsion of the Profaners from the Temple and the Venetian Conforteria” (Artibus et Historiae, 2016), and “Carrying the Cross in Early Modern Venice” (Space, Place & Motion: Locating Confraternities in the Late Medieval and Early Modern City, ed. Diana Bullen Presciutti, Brill, 2017). Her current research project examines Venetian painters’ collaborations with Flemish engravers in the late sixteenth century. Her work has been funded by grants and fellowships from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation, and other organizations. 

Check back to this page for more information, follow our social media for announcements, or email Dr. Cathleen Cummings for more information at


10:00 Special tour of the Birmingham Museum of Art; registration required. Please RSVP by Feb. 19 to Jared Ragland at

11:30 Boxed lunch available in AEIVA; registration required. Please RSVP by Feb. 19 to Jared Ragland at

12:00 Check-in

12:15 Welcome Remarks (Cathleen Cummings, Lucy Curzon)

12:30-1:45 Session 1

Anna Dow, Louisiana State University, “Who Should Own Antiquities? Returning the Rosetta Stone”

Rebecca Teague, University of Alabama, “Carving Politics: Niccolò’s Tympanum of Verona Cathedral”

Morgan Heard, University of Alabama, “The South Portal at the Cathedral of Auxerre: 
 Examples of Christian Kingship in the Era of Louis IX and the Capetian Kings”

1:45–2:00 Coffee break

2:00 -3:15 Session 2

Reed O’Mara, University of Alabama “Concerning Princes and Pomegranates: The Prince of the World at Strasbourg Cathedral as Political Commentary”

Shannah Rose, Tulane University, “(Re)Creating the Cannibal: Albert Eckhout’s Images of the Brazilian Savage”

Patricia Morgan, University of Alabama at Birmingham, “An Examination of Abanindranath Tagore’s Bharat Mata (Mother India) as Socio-Cultural and Political Icon for 20th Century India”

3:15-3:30 Coffee break

3:30-5:15 Session 3

Olivia Wall and Samira Rahbe Chambers, University of Memphis, “Specific, Functional, Found: The Fabricated Realities of Virginia Overton”

Lijun Ma, University of Alabama at Birmingham, “The Declaration of “Caringism” (接觸主義)”

Rebekah James, University of Alabama, “Through the Looking Glass: Black Feminist Politics in Love & Basketball and Something New”

5:15-6:00 Reception

6:00–7:00 pm Keynote Lecture, Dr. Meryl Bailey, “Returning the Past: Cultural Heritage, Ethics, and the American Museum in the Twenty-First Century”

In 2004, the Cleveland Museum of Art purchased an extraordinary ancient Greek statue known as the Apollo Sauroktonos from an antiquities dealer. Eight years later, the museum acquired an important Roman portrait bust of Drusus Minor, son of the Roman emperor Tiberius, through the same source. Italian authorities quickly questioned the provenance of the bust, and in 2017 it was repatriated to Italy. But even though Greek authorities have long questioned the provenance of the Apollo, it remains on display at the Cleveland Museum. This lecture takes these two objects as a point of departure to discuss the law and ethics of collecting in the twenty-first century. We will address the obligations of museums seeking to build and expand world-class collections, examine the impact of collecting practices on the destruction of cultural heritage sites, and consider the opportunities and limitations of partnerships and long-term loans as an alternative to the acquisition of antiquities.


2016: Susan L. Huntington, The Ohio State University, "The Absence of Evidence is Not Evidence of Absence: Shifting Paradigms and Constructions of Knowledge in Buddhist Art"

2015: Barbara Mooney, University of Iowa, "From Jumping Jack to Jump Jim Crow: The Origins of a Pernicious Southern Stereotype?"

2014: Jeanette Kohl, University of California, Riverside, “Serial Patricians. Authenticity and Duplication in Renaissance Portraiture”

2013: Andrew Hottle, Rowan University, “Why Are You Doing This? …and Other Questions about Rescuing Art from the Dustbin of History”

2012: Sarah Betzer, University of Virginia, “Ingres’s Shadows”

2011: Tim Barringer, Yale University, “The Condition of Music: The Aesthetic Movement and the Sister Arts”

2010: Elizabeth Chew, Curator, Monticello, “Inhabiting the Great Man’s House: Gender and Space at Monticello”

2009: Krista Thompson, Northwestern University, “‘The Sound of Light’: Reflections on Art History in the Visual Culture of Hip Hop”

2008: Michael Yonan, University of Missouri-Columbia, “The Game of Looking: Interpreting Franz Xaver Messerschmidt”

2007: Graham Boettcher, Curator of American Art, Birmingham Museum of Art, “The Wages of War: National Conflict and ‘Domestic Violence’ in Nineteenth-Century American Art”

2006: Andrea Pearson, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, “Gendered Subject, Gendered Spectator: Mary Magdalen in the Gaze of Margaret of York”

2005: Janice Leoshko, University of Texas at Austin, “Enlightenment, Ruins and Devotion”