Call for Papers | Steve McQueen Symposium

Accepting Applications

Steve McQueen Symposium
October 28–29, 2022

Please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words and a short biography by August 8, 2022, 5 pm ET.

British artist Sir Steve McQueen CBE (b. 1969, London) has worked in film, installation, and photography for more than thirty years and received widespread critical acclaim for his feature film debut, Hunger (2008), which won the Caméra d’Or at Cannes. His third feature film, 12 Years a Slave (2013), won three Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress), the BAFTA Film Awards for Best Film and Best Actor, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture–Drama. More recently, the BBC commissioned McQueen to direct Small Axe (2020), a five-film anthology series, and to co-direct Uprising (2021), a three-part documentary series, both of which won multiple television BAFTAs. In 2011, McQueen was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to the visual arts, and in 2022 he was knighted for services to film.

Themes of intimacy, isolation, physicality, and violence recur in McQueen’s work. He is known for his signature use of long takes and fixed subjects, such as the artist touching actress Charlotte Rampling’s eye for five minutes and forty-two seconds in Charlotte (2004) and a helicopter circling the Statue of Liberty for seven minutes in Static (2004). Critic Jon Thompson describes this emphasis on duration as a “lingering, evolutionary watching and waiting.” McQueen compares the long take to paintings, “where people will live with that single image for the rest of their lives.” Throughout McQueen’s work, his unflinching gaze tests the limits of his chosen themes, frequently exposing uncomfortable and complex histories to prompt remembrance and discussion. As he observes, “I cannot put a filter on life. It’s about not blinking.” McQueen has cited a range of artistic, cinematic, musical, and visual influences including Miles Davis, Ernie Gehr, Glenn Gould, Willem de Kooning, Bruce Nauman, and Andy Warhol.

This two-day symposium will celebrate and investigate the range of McQueen’s practice, acknowledging his versatility and the importance of his collaborative methods. We welcome proposals that examine any aspect of McQueen’s art including formalist concerns, critique of the film industry, the presence or absence of narrative, the role of sound, and the audience/viewer experience. We particularly welcome contributions from graduate students and early-career researchers from a range of fields, including art history, cinema, film and media studies, history, and philosophy.

The Yale Center for British Art will provide travel and accommodations for successful applicants.

Please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words and a short biography by August 8, 2022, 5 pm ET.

Top image
Steve McQueen, Sunshine State (2022), installation view at Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan in 2022, A commission for International Film Festibal Rotterdam (IFFR) 2022, © Steve McQueen. Courtesy the artist, Thomas Dane Gallery, Marian Goodman Gallery and Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan. Photo: Agostino Osio