CFP: Music and Empire in Victorian Art, AAH 2023 

The 2023 Annual Conference of the Association for Art History (AAH) is coming up on 12-14 April 2023. Among the panels presented is “Music and Empire in Victorian Art”. Despite increasing interest in interdisciplinary within art history, the influence of music on nineteenth-century art remains critically under-researched, particularly within the context of Victorian Britain and its empire. Too often the role of music is taken for granted, and the imperialist and colonialist background of instruments ignored. This session builds on existing research into music and art in the nineteenth century, proposing to look at intersections between the two, whilst foregrounding the neglected angles of imperialism and colonialism. This session invites contributions from scholars whose research broadly engages the interconnected histories of music and art in the nineteenth century. We are particularly interested in interdisciplinary research into musical instruments in painting, the intersection between music practice and pictorial practice, the role of gender and race in performing and depicting music, the role of instruments in ethnographic studies, and the importance of uncovering neglected narratives in this discourse. The session aims to explore broadly the ways in which such investigations can contribute to research into imperialism in the Victorian era. How was music in art a product of empire in Britain in the nineteenth century? And to what extent can we navigate the dichotomy of emotionalist music and the physicality of its colonially-acquired instruments? 

Examples of papers could include the role of East Asian instruments in Victorian art, music and ‘Orientalism’, the institutionalisation of ‘classical’ music for artists, and the exchange of musical ideas and instruments between Britain and its empire. 

Please email abstracts (250-word max) and titles for a 20-minute paper to the convenor, including name and institutional affiliation (if any). The deadline for submissions is 4 November 2022

For more information and regulations, please visit

Convenor: Marte Stinis, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art,

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