Annual Meetings

The Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present holds an annual conference in North America that brings together scholars and artists from institutions all over the globe to share research, debate trends, and generate new projects concerning the “arts of the contemporary.” 

The ASAP also supports an annual symposium at a host institution outside of North America. Both the conferences and the symposia are collaborations between ASAP and individual institutions–for instance, universities, institutes, museums. While the conferences are large gatherings of scholars and practitioners participating in seminars, roundtables, and panels, the symposia are meant to develop specific themes in contemporary arts research intensely, with a small and highly select group of scholars.

Our next conference will be virtual, from October 27–30, 2021. The theme is “Reciprocity,” and the deadlines for submissions are in June 2021. See the submissions portal for further details.

ASAP’s conferences and symposia do not endorse any one critical methodology, political orientation toward the arts, or aesthetic criterion of evaluation. We welcome all forms of innovative or established scholarship that have as their primary purpose the advancement of humanistic learning and creative innovation. Because the contemporary arts operate globally and often across disciplines, the conference encourages groundbreaking comparative scholarship that promotes fellowship and scholarly interaction among its various constituents.  A host institution is fully responsible for running the physical aspects of the conference and receives no monies from the Association toward these costs, though it can generate some revenue from conference registrations to offset some of these costs. The conference organizer for the host institution organizes the conference program with assistance from The ASAP Conference Program Committee. Hosting an ASAP conference or symposium offers many opportunities for institutions and groups to publicize their activities, broadcast their corporate identities to an international audience, and host an international and disciplinarily diverse group of world-renowned scholars and practitioners of the contemporary arts. If you’re interested in hosting an annual meeting of ASAP, just let us know at!

ASAP conferences offer three types of sessions: panels, roundtables, and seminars. Speakers can give a paper on only one panel or roundtable, but they can speak on both a panel and a seminar (or a roundtable and a seminar) and be a moderator on as many panels as they choose. Panels and roundtables generally run 1.5 hours (60 minutes for papers, 30 minutes for Q&A), while seminars run in one 2-hour session.

  • Panels: A participant can submit a paper proposal independently to be included on a panel put together by the ASAP Program Committee. Participants also may propose fully staffed panels featuring 3-4 papers or presentations and a panel moderator. Panels with an interdisciplinary focus are more likely to be considered for inclusion in the program, and we particularly welcome panels featuring participants from multiple arts disciplines. Panel organizers and moderators need not give a paper on panels they organize/moderate. 

  • Roundtables: Roundtables run similarly to panels in regular session formats but feature 5-7 speakers who give short presentations concerning a specific discussion topic. Roundtables are good formats to introduce diverse disciplinary views about a single topic or to generate audience-presenter discussion concerning a specific topic. Roundtables with an interdisciplinary focus are more likely to be considered for inclusion in the program, and we particularly welcome roundtables featuring participants from multiple arts disciplines. Roundtable organizers can serve as roundtable moderators and need not give a paper on panels they organize. Roundtable organizers submit a full slate of speakers when submitting a roundtable proposal.

  • Seminars: Seminars run 2 consecutive hours on one day of the conference, are meetings of 8-12 scholars, and concern a specific investigative topic. Seminars allow attendees to examine a topic in more depth than would a single panel and offer the opportunity for exchanging papers and extended contact and discussion; they are meant to generate interest in a topic that may result in collaborative scholarship such as a special issue of a journal or an edition of collected essays. All members of a Seminar should commit to distributing full papers or abstracts to the seminar organizer well before the conference. Each seminar will appear on the conference program with a listing of its participants; seminars thus may be attended by anyone at the conference, but discussion will be restricted to the named participants in the seminar. Seminars with an interdisciplinary focus are more likely to be considered for inclusion in the program, and we particularly welcome seminars featuring participants from multiple disciplines.  Seminar organizers should take responsibility for collecting and distributing papers by seminar participants well before the conference, but may organize the seminar meeting in any way that they wish. (Seminar participants can be asked to give short presentations; the seminar may be devoted to workshop critique of submitted essays; etc.)  Seminar organizers MUST make abstracts of all seminar papers available to anyone attending the seminar. Seminar organizers must submit a complete roster of 8-12 speakers in response to the Program Committee’s CFP to be considered for the conference program.

Future Meetings

September 15-18, 2022

Submissions portal and conference updates for “Edge Play

Past Meetings

October 27-30, 2021

Proceedings held online owing to COVID-19 restrictions

June 7-9 2019, at the University of Hong Kong

Hosted by the School of English, the Department of Fine Arts, and the Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts

Current information about the symposium in Hong Kong is here.

October 10-12, 2019

Hosted by the University of Maryland, College Park

Download the call for papers

October 17-20, 2018


ASAP/10 was hosted by the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South at Tulane University and Pelican Bomb at the InterContinental New Orleans. The ASAP Program Committee was chaired by the ASAP President, Joseph Jeon. The conference hosts were Rebecca Snedeker and Denise Frazier of the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South and Cameron Shaw of Pelican Bomb. 


Vrije Universiteit
May 24-26, 2018


In 2018, we sped up our calendar of meetings to host a conference every fall and a symposium every spring.

ASAP/Amsterdam was a symposium hosted by the CLUE+ Interfaculty Research Center for Culture, Cognition, History, and Heritage at Vrije Universiteit. The ASAP Program Committee was chaired by the Editor of the ASAP/Journal, Jonathan Eburne. The members of the committee were: Erin La Cour, Katja Kwastek, and Diederik Oostdijk.

October 26-28, 2017


ASAP/9 was hosted by the University of California, Berkeley at the Oakland Marriott Center, in cooperation with the ASAP Program Committee. Its organizer was Mark Goble, who was at the time the President of the ASAP as well as an associate professor of English at UC Berkeley.

ASAP/9 was our first conference without a theme beyond the discussion of the contemporary arts, and it had approximately 400 attendees.

ASAP/8: “Alternatives to the Present”

September 3-5, 2016

University of Tartu
Tartu, Estonia

Keynote Speakers:

  • Kärt Ojavee, Estonian designer, artist, and lecturer focusing on textile designs
  • Ludger Pfanz, director and producer, known for his works “Greenpeace against Shell” (2005), “Der Schwarzarbeiter” (2002), and “Las Américas” (1996).
  • James Thompson, Professor of Applied and Social Theatre and Associate Vice President for Social Responsibility at the University of Manchester.

ASAP/8 was hosted by the University of Tartu in cooperation with the ASAP Program Committee. The symposium featured more than 300 papers and presentations. Its organizers were Marina Grishakova and Jaak Tomberg of the University of Tartu.

ASAP/7: “Arts and the Public”

September 24–27, 2015

Clemson University
at the Hyatt Regency in Greenville, S.C.

Keynote Speakers: 

  • Wangechi Mutu, Kenyan artist living in New York

  • Doris Sommer, Ira Jewell Williams Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard University

  • Miguel Rosales, President and principal designer of Rosales Partners architectural design firm

ASAP/7 was hosted by Clemson University in cooperation with the ASAP Program Committee. The conference featured more than 300 papers. Conference organizers were Michael LeMehieu, Angela Naimou, Cameron Bushnell, and Emily Clark.

ASAP/6: “China and the World”

Shanghai Jiao Tong University
27-29 June 2014

A symposium of the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present in collaboration with Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The host organizer was Professor Wang Ning of Tsinghua/Shanghai Jiao Tong Universities.

Keynote Speakers: 

  • WJT Mitchell, Professor of English and Art History, University of Chicago

  • Liu Kang, Professor of Chinese Studies and Director of China Research Center, DukeUniversity; Dean of the Institute of Arts and Humanities at Shanghai Jiaotong University

The symposium featured more than 70 papers and a trip to the Power Station of Art, Shanghai.

ASAP/5: “Arts of the City” 

OCTOBER 3-5, 2013


McGregor Memorial Conference Center, & Westin Book Cadillac Hotel

A conference featuring approximately 200 presenters hosted by Wayne State University in collaboration with the Program Committee of the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present. The conference host was renee hoogland, Associate Professor of Visual Culture at Wayne State University and Editor of the journal Criticism

KEYNOTES for the conference included JACE CLAYTON, AKA, DJ RUPTURE,  Writer and Musician, and  NICHOLAS MIRZOEFF, Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. Special events included a poetry reading organized by Barrett Watten, an opening reception and ASAP/5 art exhibition at the Elaine L. Jacob Gallery “Car Art/Crash” co-curated by Iris Eichenberg (Artist in Residence/Head of Metals, Cranbrook Academy of Art) & Heather McGill (Artist in Residence/Head of Sculpture, Cranbrook Academy of Art); and a special ASAP/5 performance featuring Detroit techno-artist Omar S at MOCAD, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

ASAP/4: “Genres of the Present”

OCTOBER 4-6, 2012


ASAP/4 was hosted by hosted by the Royal College of Art, London in collaboration with the Program Committee of ASAP The conference organizer was Lucy Soutter, Associate Professor of Critical and Historical Studies. Featuring more than 40 presenters, the symposium included an evening screening of genre-related film and video art.

ASAP/3: “Arts of the Planet”

OCTOBER 27-30, 2011


ASAP/3 was hosted by hosted by the Carnegie Mellon University Humanities Center in collaboration with the Program Committee of ASAP The conference organizer was David Shumway, Professor of English and Literary and Cultural Studies. Plenary speakers included Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid), Professor of Music Mediated Art at the European Graduate School; Krzysztof Wodiczko, Professor in Residence of Art and the Public Domain for the Harvard Graduate School of Design; and Terry Smith, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory.

ASAP/2: “Configuring the Present Across Arts and Media”

OCTOBER 28-30, 2010


ASAP/2 was held at the University of Trier, Germany, on October 28-30 2010. A symposium of featuring the work of approximatley 30 scholars, ASAP/2 focused on innovation in contemporary arts and their dialogue with the past. The symposium was organized by Hilary Dannenberg, Professor of English Literature.  The symposium featured talks by Mieke Bal, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences Professor at the University of Amsterdam and Jürgen Meier, Artistic Director of the Leipzig Light Festivals of 2009 and 2010. Special events included a showing of Mère Folle: A Film by Mieke Bal and Michelle Williams Gamaker, a tour of the Roman Imperial Baths, and dinner at Wirtshaus Zur Glocke, one of Trier’s oldest restaurants.

ASAP/1: “Arts of the Present”

OCTOBER 22-24, 2009


ASAP’s launch conference “ASAP/1: Arts of the Present” was held October 22-25, 2009, downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The conference featured work by more than 115 scholars and arts practitioners working in the visual, literary, and performing arts. The conference organizer for ASAP/1 was Amy J. Elias, Professor of English at the University of Tenneseee, and the conference was hosted by the University of Tennessee’s Department of English.
The conference kicked off with an opening night reception and plenary talk by international artist Anton Vidokle at the Knoxville Museum of Art, which featured his installation “Night School.” The second plenary speaker was Sianne Ngai, who was at the time Associate Professor of English at UCLA. The keynote speaker was Kenyan novelist and playwright Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Irvine, who spoke on “Language and the Arts of the Present.”