The Cleveland Symposium is hosted each fall by the Department of Art History and Art at Case Western Reserve University and The Cleveland Museum of Art Joint Graduate Program. It began in 1974 as the Ohio Area Student Symposium and included presentations by art history students from Ohio and the surrounding regions. Now in its 46th year, the Cleveland Symposium welcomes the participation of graduate students from all around the world.

This highly successful symposium, led entirely by students in the program and hosted by the Cleveland Museum of Art, is one of the oldest graduate art history student symposia in the nation. It remains free and open to the public thanks to the generous support of Nancy and Joseph Keithley, Friends of Art, the Baker-Nord Center for Humanities, and the Case Western Reserve University School of Graduate Studies.

The theme of the 46th annual Cleveland Symposium was Bodily Realities: Engaging the Discourse of Dis/Ability. The symposium was an all-day event held on the 30th of October, 2020. Topics included the role of physical disability in the construction of identities, how the body relates to notions of normativity, abnormality, and hybridity, and accessibility in art museums and cultural sites. The keynote address was presented by Dr. Petra Kuppers of The University of Michigan. Dr. Kuppers’ work encompasses disability studies, performance studies, critical theory and poetics, medical humanities, and the general fields of arts and expression, arts and health, and arts and community building.

Additionally, due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s symposium was held virtually via Zoom and recorded.

Please note: Professional live captioning and student ASL interpreters were provided for the duration of the event.

Click here to view and download the digital program, including the schedule and information about our participants:


View the Zoom recording of the symposium at these two links: 

Part 1

Part 2

Timestamps (Part 1):

Welcome and Opening Remarks: 00:00:00

Session I: The Body and Trauma: 00:15:28

Session II: Sensory Experiences: 01:30:05

Artists and Organizers Roundtable: 03:01:49

Session III: The Monstrous and/or Hybrid Body: 04:15:55

Keynote Address by Dr. Petra Kuppers: 05:30:35

Closing Remarks and Awards: 6:45:40 and Part 2


Learn more about our roundtable participants and their work:

“The Future is Accessible” (Summer, 2019):

“Finding Accessibility: Ups and downs on two of Cleveland’s best-known art walks” (Fall, 2019):

“Take the CAN Disability Aesthetics Tour at the Cleveland Museum of Art” (Winter, 2019-2020):

“Disabled Artists Speak” (Spring, 2020):



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For the current CFP, please click here.

For a list of previous symposia, please click here.


Untitled, 1990. Robert Gober (American, b. 1954). Wax, wood, leather shoe, cotton fabric, human hair; overall: 29.6 x 16 x 51.2 cm (11 5/8 x 6 5/16 x 20 3/16 in.). The Cleveland Museum of Art, Dorothea Wright Hamilton Fund 2003.226 © Robert Gober, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery. Image courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Art.