The CAA annual conference has been enormously successful for many years, and this year is no exception. It brings a vast number of artists and art historians together, and clearly there is enormous value to be derived from that — the networking and employment opportunities, and the serendipitous meeting with new and old colleagues.
However, for the most part, the core of the conference – the Program Sessions — follow a model that has remained virtually unchanged since the nineteenth century. Papers are prepared in advance, read, and if the session is well structured, there might be an active question and answer period afterward, perhaps with a discussant leading the way. It seems that for most sessions, the vast majority of time is taken up with the reading of carefully prepared papers with significantly less time allotted to either a discussant or active Q&A.