August 29, 2018
SMU Art History Faculty

Led by Professor Freund, the organizing committee tours the Texas Fashion Collection at UNT to preview some of the garments that will be on display at SMU during the conference.

Photo: Led by Professor Freund (right), the organizing committee tours the Texas Fashion Collection at UNT to preview some of the garments that will be on display at SMU during the conference.

By Danielle Ezor

“HECAA at 25” to foster community, idea exchange

While most art historians spend their summers traveling and conducting research across the globe, Meadows Associate Professor Amy Freund spent hers poring not over books and archival documents but spreadsheets and budgets. The reason: Freund, the Kleinheinz Family Endowed Chair in Art History, is organizing the first conference of the Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art and Architecture (HECAA), to be held at the Meadows School November 1-4. 

smu art history

A detailed example of the garments that will be on display at SMU during the conference.

Art and Architecture of the Long Eighteenth Century: HECAA at 25 will offer four days of dedicated discussion of eighteenth-century art history. More than 100 professors, museum professionals, independent scholars and graduate students from across the country will gather on SMU’s campus to hear talks by established art historians and learn about research by emerging scholars. Topics to be discussed range from “Furniture in the Early American Republic” to “Slavery and Portraiture in a New Nation” to “Dangerous Liaisons: Ambassadors and Embassies in Eighteenth-Century French Art.” Participants will also discuss the past, present, and future of the field, exchange ideas and advice, and foster a sense of community among those who share a passion for the long eighteenth century, roughly the period from the last decades of the seventeenth century through the beginning of the nineteenth century.

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Engendering community is a clear goal in the organization of HECAA at 25. Unlike many academic conferences, every session will occur individually, with no overlap. All attendants will be able to be in the room for every keynote, paper and panel. And if the questions and discussions at the end of each session, the cocktail hours and banquet, and the numerous coffee breaks still do not offer enough opportunity for fostering exchange, Professor Freund has also added an innovative component to this conference: facilitated discussion sessions. Twenty scholars, representing both emerging and established art historians, will team up to lead 10 break-out groups with the aim of cultivating deeper conversation.

A number of local eighteenth-century scholars are helping plan the conference. Led by Professor Freund, the organizing committee includes professors from the University of North Texas and Texas Christian University, a curator from the Dallas Museum of Art, and SMU art history faculty member Elizabeth Eager. This group, along with Professor Freund’s graduate student assistant, Danielle Ezor, has exchanged countless emails and phone calls, conducted group video chats and in-person meetings, and even gone on outings together, such as to the Texas Fashion Collection at UNT to preview some of the garments that will be on display at SMU during the conference.

Although her summer was not spent in the galleries of the Louvre, Professor Freund’s work to register participants, arrange catering, hire buses, and reserve rooms will advance scholarship far beyond the confines of her office. Art and Architecture of the Long Eighteenth Century: HECAA at 25 offers the opportunity for this community to grow together and promote the study of eighteenth-century art and architecture even after the last conference session concludes.

Registration for HECAA at 25 is free for faculty and students from SMU, UNT, TCU, UTA and UTD. To register and for more information about the conference.