Visualizing Sound & Silence in Art & Architecture
45th Annual Cleveland Symposium

Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio

Friday, October 25, 2019

With keynote speaker: Vincent Debiais, L’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales

When we examine images, we often concentrate solely on the sense of sight. In reality, art and architecture have a long history of incorporating and engaging with aural elements that foreground the sense of hearing. Whether audible or silent, art, in any form, is not a “mute” medium. The questions of who speaks, who is silent, and who is listening echo within the chambers of power in any society.

How do artists throughout history visualize sound and silence? How does performance alter the experience of an object or space? How does the ephemeral nature of a melody or of a cacophony change our experiences of art and architecture over time?

The Art History Department at Case Western Reserve University invites graduate students to submit abstracts for its 2019 Annual Symposium Visualizing Sound & Silence in Art & Architecture. The Cleveland Symposium is one of the longest-running annual art history graduate symposia in the United States, organized by graduate students in the joint Department of Art History at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

We welcome innovative research papers that explore acoustics, music, sounds, and silence in and around visual imagery. Submissions may explore aspects of this theme as manifested in any medium as well as in any historical period and geographical location. Different methodological perspectives are welcomed.

Potential topics may include, but are not limited to:
● Depictions of sound
● Sound and silence as power dynamics
● Music in art
● Liturgy & recitation
● Conversation pieces
● Acoustics in architecture
● Silent films
● Performance art
● Sound installations
● Sound in conversation with other senses
● The role of labels and audio guides in museums
● Resonance with political environments

Current and recent graduate students in art history, musicology, and related disciplines are invited to submit 350-word abstract and a CV to by June 28, 2019. Selected participants will be notified by the end of July. Paper presentations will be 20 minutes in length. Three papers will be awarded prizes.

Please direct all questions to Reed O’Mara and Rebecca Woodruff at clevelandsymposium@gmail.comFollow us on Facebook & Instagram.

(Picture: Leaf from a Gradual, circle of Girolamo dai Libri (Italian, 1474-1555), Italy, Verona (?), ink, tempera, and gold on parchment. The Cleveland Museum of Art, General Income Fund 1921.140.1.a)