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2021 Annual Conference Call for Proposals

Imagining Legacy: Archives, Collections, and Memoria

Society for Photographic Education   /   Deadline: 09/05/20

Though there remains much uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, what we know without a doubt is this: SPE members are facing unprecedented challenges, and the need for exploring best practices, sharing lessons learned, and connecting with their peers will be greater than ever. That's why we are committed to hosting our annual conference in 2021, and we want you to be a part of it.

Depending on how the pandemic mitigation efforts progress over the next several months, there are two possible scenarios for our 2021 Conference:

IN-PERSON: If we are confident early enough in the planning process that gathering in large groups will be deemed safe according to public health guidelines, the conference will be held March 18-21, 2021 in Denver, Colorado at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel.

VIRTUAL: There's a real possibility we will need to transition to hosting a virtual or hybrid conference. If we do need to go virtual, we would adjust the conference dates to allow it to take place over an extended period of time, rather than condensed into four days. We would work with accepted proposals to build the schedule over that longer period of time.

Through the proposal process, you will be able to indicate if your session can:
- only be offered in person
- be offered either in person or virtually
- only be offered virtually

A photograph is legacy, a lasting record of a subject, artist, event, culture, moment, or place. These legacies, like history, have often been defined through a colonialist, patriarchal lens that upholds normative narratives of whiteness, obscuring the legacies of others. How have our intersecting pasts shaped the contemporary moment? We live and make art in a time of strategic conflict over the truth—with the photograph as one the most publicly trusted instruments of truth-telling. At the same time, we find ourselves in an era of photographic ubiquity and abundance. What is our role as artists in cutting through the ubiquity to actively reshape the future? A political moment demands that we visit our past – in order to retell, reimagine, rewrite, and redefine more inclusive truths that will deeply affect our future as a global community. This year, SPE is seeking presentations by artists, scholars, and researchers whose work investigates the world through the lens of legacy.

Presentation Formats:

Presentation lengths will vary between 15 and 45 minutes. This will be determined based on the chosen proposals and conference format/schedule.

• Graduate Student – short presentation of your own artistic work and a brief introduction to your graduate program (must be enrolled in graduate program at time of submission)
• Imagemaker – presentation on your own artistic work
• Lecture – presentation on historical topic, theory, or another artist's work
• Teaching & Learning – presentations, workshops, demos that addresses educational issues, including teaching resources and strategies (syllabi, videos, assignments, readings, class prep/setup, and PowerPoint presentations); curricula to serve diverse artists and changing student populations; seeking promotion and tenure; avoiding burnout; and professional exchange
• Panel Discussion – active discussion among panelists (max: 3), moderator, and audience to discuss a chosen topic


Denver, CO




SPE members and nonmembers are eligible to submit one (1) proposal for consideration. Individuals who have presented at two SPE annual conferences since 2018 (Philadelphia) are not eligible. This also applies to co-presenters and/or panelists.


How to Submit:
• SPE conference proposal submissions are conducted using SlideRoom, an online review system. Applicants must register and submit all required proposal materials on the SlideRoom website using SPE's portal.
• Visit and follow the instructions provided.
• Complete the submission form, including presenter(s), a 3,000-character
(about 500 words) abstract (precise summary of presentation content), a biographical summary for each intended presenter (max: 750 characters each), and questions related conference format (in-person vs. virtual).
• Upload media (max of 20 files) – this may include images, video, and audio.
• Submit $10 fee.


Applicants to the Imagemaker track will be considered for the SPE Imagemaker Award, a cash award granted to a first-time imagemaker presenter who demonstrates outstanding achievement as determined by the peer review committee. Additionally, Imagemaker Award recipients will be given the opportunity for a one-month residency at PLAYA, in southern Oregon, within the calendar year.

The International Conference Grant is awarded to three of the highest-ranked international proposal submissions selected to present at the conference. This prize offers a full conference waiver and complimentary one-year membership.


Membership Requirements: Current membership is required for all participants of accepted proposals. All presenters, co-presenters, panelists, and moderators will have 10 days to join SPE or renew their membership once acceptance notifications are sent out.

Conference Registration Requirements and Discount: All participants (presenters, co-presenters, panelists, moderators) must register for the conference in some capacity in order to participate in a session. Accepted presenters are eligible to receive a discounted rate on conference registration. (Co-presenters/panelists for graduate, dialogic, imagemaker, lecture, and teaching & learning presentations are NOT eligible for discounted rates). Panel discussion format presentations are eligible for up to four discounted registrations (one moderator and up to three panelists).

Evaluation Criteria

All submissions are reviewed by a 10-member peer review panel, which forwards recommendations to the 2021 Conference Committee. The Annual Board's Executive Committee approves the final conference program to ensure the broadest representation of concerns in the field. You will be notified by early October on the status of your submission.

Contact Information

Jennifer Shea
PO Box 6653
Cleveland, Ohio 44101

P: 216-622-2733

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