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call for papers 2012

The International Committee for the History of Technology’s
39th Symposium in Barcelona, Spain, 10 – 14 July 2012

Technology, the Arts and Industrial Culture

[download CfP as PDF file]

Online abstract submissions is now closed. For the most current information regarding the meeting please go to the main conference page here.

The deadline for submitting a session or abstract has been extended to 12 February 2012.

The 39th ICOHTEC Symposium will be held in Catalonia in mid-July next year. The main theme of the meeting will be Technology, the Arts and Industrial Culture. The aim is to examine technology in a multidisciplinary framework. The key questions are how technological development has interacted with design, architecture, the arts as well as popular culture and whether we can regard industrial culture as a melting pot of various influences. Reflecting on the theme of the previous conference we hope also to explore the role of consumers in this dialogue.

Barcelona with its rich industrial history, outstanding architecture and ample collections of the arts will be an excellent site for examining the interactions of technology with the arts, structural and form design as well as culture in general.

ICOHTEC welcomes individual paper and poster proposals as well as the submissions of sessions to this symposium. The tendency is to favour compact and coherent session proposals where pre­sentations communicate with each others.

The symposium programme will include scientific and plenary sessions, poster presentations, business meetings and the general assembly of the organising society, excursions, social events such as receptions and a banquet, and possibly pre- and post-conference trips. The premises of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya will serve as venues for this meeting.

The programme committee suggests the following subthemes for the consideration of session organizers and contributors. The bullet points under the subthemes are simply examples of topics that could fit into the each subtheme.


  • Society – the master or slave of technology?
  • The dependence and independence of technology from socio-economic and cultural factors
  • Examples of technological momentum or path dependence
  • Origins of technological innovations


  • Representations of technology in the arts
  • Technological fundaments for the development of the arts and architecture:
    • Printing machines in creating modern literature for the masses
    • Was the industry of synthetic paints a requirement for impressionism?
    • The celluloid film – a precondition for cinematic art?


  • Surrealistic technology
  • Representations of arts and architecture in technology


  • Unemotional robots and weeping dolls
  • Monster cars and lady hammers – masculinity and feminity of technology
  • RMS Empress of Ireland and Admiral Kuznetsov – gender of ships
  • Hoovers, wellingtons, mackintoshes … figurative language of technology


  • Aesthetics of industrial design
  • Gendered concepts of technological beauty
  • Changing ideals about how technology should look


  • Values, habits and group interests in industrial communities
  • Machines setting the pace for industrial culture
  • Design and cultural values
  • Analogies with the old, qualities of the new
  • The role of arts and architecture in industrial culture
  • Technology of popular culture: mass production of culture and culture for masses
  • Heritage in industry and industrial heritage


  • The effects of industrial pollution on art and architecture
  • Environmental heritage of technology, arts and architecture


  • Industrial arts and the exquisiteness of manufactured goods
  • The birth and development of industrial design
  • Mass production of kitsch and vulgar objects
  • Introduction of new materials and their impacts on the qualities of products


  • Consumer friendly or showy technology
  • Push or pull? Consumers’ choice or producers’ power
  • Inducements to buy: The role of arts and architecture


  • Cultural differences in comprehending and appreciating technology
  • Multidisciplinarity in engineering and technical education
  • Are there national styles in technical education?

The committee will also consider submissions not directly related to the symposium theme as long as they can be regarded to be related to the history of technology broadly defined.

Proposal Guidelines
The symposium covers all periods and all areas of the globe. In keeping with a cherished tradition of the field, the meeting is open to scholars from all disciplines and backgrounds. We especially encourage graduate students to participate in the symposium and submit their proposals (limited travel grants will be available; see further information at: http://www.icohtec.org/resources-prizes.html). Because we aim at quick and equal processing of submissions, paper or poster proposals must be submitted in English. Nevertheless, besides English also French, German, Russian and Spanish are acceptable for paper and poster presentations at the symposium, but the organizers will not provide simultaneous translation during the conference.

We urge contributors to consider organizing a full session of three or more papers. Individual paper submissions will also be considered. In addition, it is possible to propose papers and sessions unrelated to the general theme as well. They can be presented in "Special topics" sessions.

INDIVIDUAL PAPER proposals must include: (1) a 200-400-word abstract; and (2) a one-page CV. Abstracts should include the author’s name and email address, a short descriptive title, a concise statement of the thesis, a brief discussion of the sources, and a summary of the major conclusions. If you are submitting a paper proposal dealing with a particular subtheme, please indicate this in your proposal.

In preparing your paper, remember that presentations are not full-length articles. You will have no more than 20 minutes to speak, which is roughly equivalent to eigth double-spaced typed pages. For more suggestions about preparing your conference presentation, please consult the guidelines at the conference website.

Contributors are encouraged to submit full-length versions of their papers after the symposium for consideration by ICOHTEC’s journal ICON.

SESSION proposals must include (1) an abstract of the session (200-400 words maximum), listing the proposed papers and a session chairperson; (2) abstracts for each paper (200-400 words); (3) a one-page CV for each contributor and chairperson. Sessions should consist of at least three papers – but no more than – and they may include several sections of three or four papers in each, which might extend series of successive sections over more than one day. The programme committee reserve the right to relocate papers to different themes and add papers to sessions. We also encourage proposing roundtables and other "untraditional" session formats.

POSTER proposals must include (1) a 200-400-word abstract; and (2) a one-page CV. Abstracts should include the author’s name and email address, a short descriptive title, a concise statement of the thesis, a brief discussion of the sources, and a summary of the major conclusions. Please, indicate one of the specified subthemes for your poster.

Proposal Submissions
The final deadline for all submissions is Tuesday 31 January 2012.

Please, sign up to our online submission system, fill in a form and send your proposal through it. All proposals are to be submitted via our online system. The link to the system is available at our website: http://www.icohtec.org/annual-meeting/cfp-system/2012-barcelona/

If you have any questions related scientific programme, paper, poster or session proposals, please, do not hesitate to contact Jan Kunnas, the chair of the programme committee, via email jan.kunnas@eui.eu


Page updated: 8 December 2011

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