Two new calls for proposals for forthcoming issues!

1. On Unstable Ground. Abstracts due March 15, 2021. Edited by Rachel Dressler and Benjamin C. Tilghman.
2. Toward a Visual History of the Working Class. Abstracts due March 30, 2021. Edited by Diane Wolfthal.

Scroll down for more info about both issues!


Call for Proposals: On Unstable Ground

Abstracts due March 15, 2021

Edited by Rachel Dressler and Benjamin C. Tilghman


Every work of art is grounded in some way. Whether we are examining the earth on which it stands, the substrate beneath its surface, the foundation of its ideologies, or the justification for its existence, art historians seek to excavate the grounds of an object. We do this even as the ground continues to shift under our own feet.  We may move to higher ground to avoid flooding or to elevate our moral stance; we can cover a lot of ground in a high-speed vehicle but might chafe at having to do so in a survey course; we work to ensure that our changing beliefs, conclusions, and opinions are as well-grounded as the electronic equipment through which we communicate them. Whether as a metaphor, as an action, or as a material fact, we ignore the ground at our own peril: it is never as firm as we might wish to believe it is.

This special issue of Different Visionswill present essays considering the unstable, unreliable circumstances of the ground in medieval art. Understanding “ground” as a surface upon which humans act, we invite essays that examine it as a formal artistic, environmental, or conceptual phenomenon, or more. Authors might consider the particular ways in which the ground is depicted as unsteady or changeable in pictorial art, or perhaps examine its curious absence in some imagery. They might also, or alternatively, meditate upon the ground as a visual phenomenon–against which figures are set and articulated–or as the physical substrate upon which a work of art is created. We are also eager to consider the ground as a geographical phenomenon. How do works of art articulate unstable terrains (in the form of boundary markers, perhaps), contend with tectonically dynamic landscapes (especially in the Mediterranean basin), or dramatically shift the ground themselves (as with earthworks)? Similarly, how might the experience of walking across shifting sands, uneven pavements, or worn floors have shaped people’s encounters with buildings, urban areas, or landscapes? Another potential area for exploration is the underground inhabited by living creatures, the dead, or hoards, which have the capacity to unsettle the ground as they re-emerge.

This collection will also serve as an occasion to consider critically the grounds upon which the field of medieval art history has constructed itself. On what grounds have certain topics been historically dismissed as not pertinent to the study of medieval art? How might the ongoing critiques of the traditional geographic, religious, ethnic, and racial definitions of “medieval art” be understood as a radical regrounding of the field?

Authors are invited to offer proposals of no more than 500 words by March 15, 2021. Authors will be notified of acceptance by no later than April 1, 2021 with full submissions due for preliminary editing by September 1, 2021, with peer review proceeding afterward. Please send proposals to Rachel Dressler ( and Ben Tilghman (


Call for Papers: Towards a Visual History of the Working Class

Abstracts due March 30, 2021

Edited by Diane Wolfthal

The discipline of art history is closely tied to the art market and to wealthy donors and collectors, and for this reason has long identified with the upper class. Many art historians betray a tendency to identify with the elite. For example, Ruth Mellinkoff, in her fine book Outcasts, expresses a typical attitude when she asserts, “While we who live in the era of the common man publicly extol his virtues, privately we admire and covet the attributes of the upper class.” There are innumerable publications on medieval queens, wealthy art donors, and the luxury objects that they commissioned, but few studies concern the laboring class. In part this is because medieval sources are less interested in workers than in the elite. It is more difficult to write an art history from below because there are fewer textual and visual sources, but it can be done, as earlier scholars have shown. Outstanding examples include J. J. G Alexander’s study of peasants, Deidre Jackson’s essay on labor, and Ruth Mellinkoff’s book, among others.

This future issue of Different Visions will be devoted to exploring those who labored. We welcome proposals for articles that explore any aspect that builds towards a visual history of the working class in the Middle Ages (400-1530). Essays may examine images of the laboring class or the objects that were part of their lives, or any other relevant topic. Michael Uebel and Kellie Robertson have shown that in every European language the medieval word for “labour” had an “unambivalent connotation of pain, suffering, and fatigue.” Do visual images confirm this? How is labor depicted? What role does the intersection of gender, race, and class play in medieval images of laborers? How does medieval art show animals or other nonhumans who labor? Have medieval images been used to support modern ways of seeing labor and capital, production and consumption? Does the Aristotelian contempt for labor affect medieval images? Which objects were associated with working class? Which material and immaterial qualities were associated with workers?

Please submit an abstract of about 150 words by March 30 to Diane Wolfthal at  Those whose abstracts are selected for publication will be asked to submit their article by July 30.  Contributors will then share their research through a zoom conference to be held Aug. 15.  Final, revised drafts will be submitted Dec. 31.



Past calls

Issue Seven: Call for Submissions

Issue seven of Different Visions is an open issue, and we welcome the submission of individual articles and projects. Different Visions aims for inclusive publishing and welcomes a variety of approaches and topics reflecting the diversity of medieval visual and material culture. It publishes work that engages with all forms of critical theory, including Premodern Critical Race Studies, Gender Studies, the global Middle Ages, and Medievalism. It also welcomes projects that work at the intersection of medieval art history and the digital humanities. In addition, it seeks integrated, socially-engaged, or pedagogical projects that examine the role of medieval visual culture in our contemporary world.