AHCS Speaker Series 2018-19

The lecture series would like to thank the Dean of Arts Development Fund at McGill, Media@McGill, and a generous anonymous donor for contributing to the series.

Unless otherwise noted, the events will take place at the Department of Art History and Communication Studies, Arts building, room W-215 at 4:00pm.

To subscribe to the AHCS Events mailing list, please contact: caitlin.loney [at] mcgill.ca


Fall 2018

Sept 21

Arctic Ink
Chris Heuer (University of Rochester)
Arts W-20, 4-6pm
Co-sponsored with Les Nouveaux Modernes research group

Abstract: When a mysterious cache of sixteenth-century Netherlandish engravings was found in the Arctic circle in 1870, many questions arose. What do such objects, for example, tell us about narratives of Renaissance globalization? About "cultural exchange" conceptualized not in terms of movement and difference, but of stasis, mundanity, and sameness?

Bio: Christopher Heuer holds a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in the history of art and architecture (2003) and completed a predoctoral fellowship at the Kunsthistorisch Instituut of the Rijksuniversiteit Leiden (2000–2002). He earned his MA from the University of Southern California in the history of art and architecture (1997) and graduated from Bowdoin College in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree cum laude, double majoring in art history and philosophy. He was an assistant professor in the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University from 2007–2014 and was recently the Samuel H. Kress Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. He is a widely recognized specialist in early modern European art and architecture, with an emphasis on painting, architecture, and print culture in northern Europe. He is the author of The City Rehearsed: Object, Architecture, and Print in the Worlds of Hans Vredeman de Vries. Currently, Heuer is working on books examining Albrecht Dürer and kinesis, and Renaissance encounters with the Arctic.

October 11-12

Abortion Beyond Bounds
Co-sponsored with IGSF and Centre for Research on Gender,  Health, and Medicine

To mark the 30th anniversary of the decriminalization of abortion in Canada, this bilingual two-day conference organized by the McGill Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies (IGSF) and the Centre for Research on Gender, Health, and Medicine will focus on the "self-management" in order to assess contemporary questions, research, and activism around abortion both locally and globally.

October 14

Networking Global Communication in and Beyond the Age of Social Media
Conference co-sponsored with Media@McGill

In his 2016 book Marconi, McGill Professor Emeritus Marc Raboy made the case for attending to the relationship between mediated communication and social transformations since the mid-nineteenth century, seeing the evolution of our communication system as a layered process of continuity and change. This conference responds to Raboy’s call for more historically informed analyses of global and networked communication. It foregrounds the interrelated roles of media governance, institutions, and movements for social change. Featuring contributions from Darin Barney (McGill University), Greg Taylor (University of Calgary), Arne Hintz (Cardiff University), Claudia Padovani (University of Padova), Jeremy Shtern (Ryerson University), and Erol Salamon (University of Minnesota) among others, this conference will present panels on four topics: “Thinking about Globally Networked Communication,” “Media Governance and Policy,” “Institutions of Public Media,” and “Social Movements and Media Messages: Québec and Beyond.” Papers presented at this conference will be published as The Handbook of Global Media Policy Research in the International Association for Media and Communication Research’s series with Palgrave.

Eventbrite registration

Oct 17 

Just Watching: Cold War Science and the Ethics of Observation
Heather K. Love (University of Pennsylvania)
Arts 260, 4-6pm
Keynote presentation of the 3rd Annual McGill Queer Research Colloquium

Co-sponsorship with LLC/IGSF

Abstract: This essay considers ethological research on communication in the human and natural sciences after WWII, looking at the two-way traffic between “animal sociology” and naturalistic accounts of group interaction among humans. Ranging from discussions of the signaling behavior of homosexual geese at the Macy Conferences on “Group Processes” to Laud Humphreys’ in situ research on sex in public restrooms in the 1960s, this paper argues that observational research offered an alternative to psychological accounts of both human and animal motivation, and in many cases resulted in less stigmatizing and non-essentialist accounts of non-normative behavior. While it may seem especially perverse to champion observation during the Cold War, I argue that the emphasis on militarized surveillance has obscured the diverse and contradictory uses of observation in this period. This essay is taken from my book project, Underdogs, which traces the roots of queer studies in post-WWII social science.

Bio: Heather Love received her A.B. from Harvard and her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Her research interests include gender and sexuality studies, twentieth-century literature and culture, affect studies, sociology and literature, disability studies, film and visual culture, and critical theory. She is the author of Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History (Harvard) and the editor of a special issue of GLQ on Gayle Rubin (“Rethinking Sex”) and the co-editor of a special issue of Representations ("Description Across Disciplines"). She has written on topics including comparative social stigma, compulsory happiness, transgender fiction, spinster aesthetics, reading methods in literary studies, and the history of deviance studies. She is currently completing a book on practices of description in the humanities and social sciences after World War II.

Oct 19

Fragile Colors: The Art of Glassmaking and the Imitation of Nature
Sven Dupré (University of Amsterdam)

AHCS Research Forum, in co-sponsorship with Le Séminaire des nouveaux modernes
4:00-6:00 PM; Arts W-220

Bio: Sven Dupré is Professor of History of Art, Science and Technology at the University of Amsterdam (Conservation & Restoration)andChair of History of Art, Science and Technology at Utrecht University (History & Art History). Dupré’s research sits at the crossroads of technical art history and the history of science and technology. He is theDirector of the project ‘Technique in the Arts: Concepts, Practices, Expertise, 1500-1950’ (ARTECHNE), supported by a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant, in cooperationwith conservatorsat the Atelier Buildingin Amsterdam, where the Rijksmuseum, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and the University of Amsterdam combine their knowledge in the field of restoration of art objects.Since 2018 he also heads the NWO Smart Culture digital art history project on the history of glass focusing on the archives of the artist Sybren Valkema (1916-1996), in collaboration with the FoundationVrij Glas, the RKD Netherlands Institute for Art History, the Corning Museum of Glass and the Glasmuseum Hentrich, Dusseldorf.He is a member of the editorial boards of the journals Nuncius, Science in Contextand Studium, an associate editor of History of Humanities, a former member of the advisory board of Isis, co-editor of theNuncius book series on material and visual history of science (Brill Publishers), and an advisory board member of the book series Studies in Art &Materiality (Brill Publishers).

Oct 25

Arctic Journalisms, Civic Spaces, and Indigenous Publics
Candis Callison (UBC Graduate School of Journalism/Princeton University)
Arts W-215, 4-6 pm

Co-sponsorship with Media@McGill

Abstract :Mobilizing Indigenous experiences with and narratives about climate change through various media provides important insight for broad global publics about what it means to live with climate change both in the observable present and the predicted future. Representing and reporting on diverse Indigenous peoples however can be extremely challenging given that mainstream media narratives have often tended to reproduce stereotypes, ignore Indigenous knowledges, erase the ongoing impacts of colonialism, and/or frame Indigenous people as proxies, victims, or heroes. Drawing on research related to media in and about the Canadian Arctic, this talk examines how and where journalism might contribute to communal resilience, historical understandings of adaptation and climatic shifts, and reflect robust civic spaces and imaginations among global and regional audiences that include Indigenous publics.

Bio: Candis Callison is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Journalism at UBC. Her research and teaching are focused on changes to media practices and platforms, journalism ethics, the role of social movements in public discourse, and understanding how issues related to science and technology become meaningful for diverse publics. Callison’s book, How Climate Change Comes to Matter: The Communal Life of Facts (Duke University Press, 2014) uses ethnographic methods and a comparative lens to bring together the work of science journalists, scientists, and three distinct social groups that are outside environmental movement and policy frameworks in an American context. Callison leads a research team on arctic journalism, funded through a SSHRC Insight Grant. They are researching changes to professional norms, practices and standards for Canadian Arctic journalists working in an era of environmental change and global audiences. Since the project launched in 2014, research assistants have jointly conducted ethnographic research, completed a portion of their required Master of Journalism summer internships in the three northern Canadian territories, and provided live reporting and media analysis during the COP 21 meetings in Paris.

Oct 30

Responsible journalism in the age of hyper-polarization
Phil Gohier, Mark Lloyd, and Jennifer Ditchburn
Moderator: Andrew Potter
Faculty Club 3450 rue McTavish, 5:3-7:30 pm
Presented by Max Bell School of Public Policy and Media@McGill

Register for the event

For many observers, the American media’s commitment to “balance” contributed to President Trump’s victory by normalizing his views and behaviour and fueling the public’s belief that “both sides are corrupt”. This problem is only amplified when it comes to reporting on far-right nationalist groups, where the mere act of covering them can arguably provide them with undeserved legitimacy.

In response, people like NYU professor Jay Rosen have asserted that this is no time for balanced journalism; instead the media simply need to “declare their biases” as transparently as possible. But what does this mean in practice? For example, how should the media report on Quebec’s far-right group Atalante, whose members recently raided the office of Vice Magazine and threatened a reporter whose coverage they did not like? Or how can the media do its job in an environment where left-leaning social media mobs appoint themselves as overseers of editorial standards and decision-making, and are quick to condemn a publication for giving a voice or platform to figures who they consider beyond the pale of legitimate debate? And what are the implications from all this for public policy?

Join the Max Bell School of Public Policy and Media@McGill in welcoming Phil Gohier, Mark Lloyd, and Jennifer Ditchburn for a conversation moderated by Andrew Potter, which explores the demands and responses of responsible journalism in dealing with these challenges.

Nov 15

Dangerous Exposures: Work and Waste in Victorian Photography and the Chemical Trades
Jennifer Tucker (Wesleyan University)
Arts W-215, 4-6pm

Bio: Jennifer Tucker is Associate Professor of History at Wesleyan University where she is also a member of the faculty of the Science in Society Program and the College of the Environment, and currently serves as Interim Chair of the Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program. She received her BA in Human Biology (Neuropsychology of Vision, Perception, and Memory) from Stanford University, MPhil in the Dept. of the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge (Marshall Scholarship, Gonville and Caius College), and Ph.D. in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology from Johns Hopkins University. A historian of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British society, she specializes in the history of technology, science, art, visual and material culture. Tucker currently is working on two new book-length projects. One, titled “Science Against Industry: Photographic Technologies and the Visual Politics of Pollution Reform,” traces the historical roots of the use of visual evidence in environmental science and pollution reform, and explores the visual representation in chemical climatology and the presentation of visual exhibits in Victorian courtroom debates over air and river pollution. The other, titled “Caught on Camera,” is a book-length study about the legal and cultural history of photographic detection and evasion, and is funded by a Public Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She began work on both of these projects as a Visiting Fellow at the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University, Canberra in 2015 and as a Senior Scholar at Birkbeck, University of London, in 2016.

Nov 19

Aimi Hamraie (Vanderbilt University)
Rathlyn Lecture in Disability Studies 
Redpath Library Building, Research Commons A, 4 – 6 pm

Aimi Hamraie is assistant professor of Medicine, Health, & Society and American Studies at Vanderbilt University, and director of the Critical Design Lab and Mapping Access project. Their interdisciplinary research spans critical disability theory, feminist and crip technoscience, new materialisms, and design. Hamraie is the author of Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017). Their articles on disability and design appear in American Quarterly,Disability Studies Quarterly, Foucault Studies, Design and Culture, Hypatia, philoSOPHIA, and Age Culture Humanities, as well as Disability Space Architecture (Routledge, 2017) and The Politics of Place and Space(Cambridge University Press, 2012). Hamraie’s research has been funded by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Arts, the Social Science Research Council, the National Humanities Alliance, and the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.

Admission is free, but RSVP is required through Eventbrite


Facebook event

For additional information or to identify your accessibility needs, please contact:disabilities.students [at] mcgill.ca

Dec 6

Other Ways of Seeing
Sharon Sliwinski (Faculty of Information and Media Studies, Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism, University of Western Ontario)
Arts W-215, 4-6pm

In his late work, John Berger both returned to and expanded upon his signal ideas about the language of images, experimenting with what we might call “other ways of seeing.” Sometimes these experiments were political in nature—attempts to register how political crises can flatten the visual field, eroding our appetite for that dimension of the imaginary order that does not yield directly to sight. And sometimes the experiments were more intimate—gestures that sought to re-enliven gendered encounters, for instance. My presentation will explore some of these other ways of seeing, with particular attention to the picturing of migrants and refugees. The aim of the discussion will be to explore the relationship between visual praxis, forms of regard, and the structure of the political imaginary.


Winter 2019

Jan 10

A Good Woman With a Gun: U.S. Mythologies of Race, Gender, and Self-Defense
Caroline Light (Director of Undergraduate Studies and Senior Lecturer, Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality, Harvard University)
Arts W-215, 4-6pm

Abstract: What accounts for the rhetorical power of the recurring trope of the self-possessed, heroic, and implicitly white “good woman with a gun,” and against whom is she presumed to defend herself? This talk will explore some of the early iconography by which the armed white woman became a symbol of virtuous and vulnerable nationhood while addressing the intersecting racial and gender logics that contributed to a national ideal of what historian Barbara Cutter calls “innocent violence” in the name of collective self-defense.

Bio: Caroline Light is the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Program in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Harvard. She has a doctorate in history, and her work explores the ways in which race, gender, and region shape collective (mis)memory and archival silence. Her first book, That Pride of Race and Character: the Roots of Jewish Benevolence in the Jim Crow South (NYU Press, 2014) discusses how gendered and racialized performances of elite, white cultural capital served as a critical mode of survival for a racially liminal community of southerners. Her recent book, Stand Your Ground: A History of America’s Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense (Beacon Press, 2017) tracks the history of lethal self-defense in the U.S., from the duty to retreat to the “shoot first, ask questions later” ethos that prevails in many jurisdictions today.

Public Lecture: Thursday, January 10th, 2019: 4:00pm, Arts W-215
Seminar (registration required): Friday, January 11th, 2019: 9:00 am to 11:00am, Arts W-220

Sponsors:
Prof. Jason Opal, Chair History and Classical Studies McGill University
Prof. Charmaine A. Nelson, Art History and Communication Studies, McGill University
Prof. Alanna Thain, Director, IGSF, McGill University

Feb 21

In the Belly of the Whale: Reflections on Precarious Future(s) and Aging Settler/ Colonial Institutions
Andrew Hunter (Independent artist, curator, educator and writer)

Arts W-215, 4-6pm

Abstract: Through a combination of personal stories, historical narratives, contemporary art, museum case studies, and his own artist/curator projects, Andrew Hunter will consider the problematic pasts and precarious futures of museums, galleries and arts organizations, with an emphasis on Canadian institutions and their relationships with dominant global models. Emphasizing the colonial roots of these spaces, Hunter will reflect on the growing demands from many communities for significant, foundational change in these so-called “public” institutions. Through the lenses of parallel disciplines (particularly natural history, life sciences and geology), Hunter considers the challenge, and potential barriers to, adaptation and confronting the underlying commitment of most institutions to retain their foundational cultures and structures. In the Belly of the Whaleoffers a deeply personal and self-critical perspective, shaped by a wide range of experiences in the arts, from high profile positions, to the periphery and self-imposed exile.

“He lived with us in the belly of the whale, and the whale spit him out on the farther shore.” - from Opening Invocation by Jean-Paul de Dadelsen (1950)

Bio: Andrew Hunter is an artist, curator, educator and writer. Born and currently based in Hamilton, Ontario, he is a graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Over three decades, he has worked nationally and internationally, holding curatorial positions across Canada (including at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Vancouver Art Gallery and Art Gallery of Ontario) and, as both an artist and curator, has produced exhibitions and publications for such institutions as the National Gallery of Canada, Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Banff Centre for the Arts, Concordia University, University of Toronto, Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik (Croatia), Hammer Museum at UCLA and Museum of Fine Arts Boston, among many others. Hunter ran the experimental interdisciplinary arts-based program RENDER (University of Waterloo), co-founded the creative research project DodoLab (with Lisa Hirmer) and has been a collaborator with the community focused arts research initiative proboscis UK (London, England). He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses at University of Waterloo/Waterloo Architecture and OCAD University and worked closely with organizations supporting at-risk and marginalized youth. A former house painter, steeplejack, caretaker and marina and factory labourer, Hunter’s grandparents came to Hamilton in the 1920s from Birmingham, England, and Glasgow, Scotland, as working people and his parents were Hamilton born and worked in industry and health care.

Hunter regularly writes and speaks about institutions of culture and history, the erasure of histories, the marginalization of cultures by colonial institutions and the responsibilities and accountabilities of settler communities. Since resigning his senior position as Curator of Canadian Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2017, he has continued to be an outspoken critic of the entrenched systems of exclusion (defined by wealth, privilege and whiteness) that remain the foundations of so-called “public” institutions. Recent talks include presentations at Harvard University, University of Glasgow, University of Toronto, and keynote talks at the 2018 Archives Association of Ontario Conference (Laurier University) and the 2018 Saskatchewan Artists Association Conference (University of Saskatchewan). Widely published, his most recent text, written as his alter-ego Professor William Starling, appears in the fall 2018 issue of Blackflash magazine.

At heart, Hunter’s work is multi-disciplinary and exploratory, incorporating visual art, writing, performance and media, as well as academic and archival research and story-telling. Acknowledging his status as a settler and invasive species, he is committed to collaboratively developing and sharing new approaches that break from colonial models and embracing the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In addition, the mental health of individuals, communities and cultures is (for personal and professional reasons) of fundamental importance to his life and work. Hunter considers it essential that work in the arts be socially and critically engaged and accepts the categorization of much of his work as “social work” (a term usually applied as a criticism).

March 21

Landscapes of Ignorance: Colonial Imaginaries in Danish and Norwegian Art and Visual Culture
Mathias Danbolt (University of Copenhagen)
Arts W-215, 4-6pm

Bio: Mathias Danbolt is a Danish-Norwegian art historian who has a special focus on queer, feminist, and decolonial perspectives on art and visual culture. Danbolt is currently leading the collective research project “The Art of Nordic Colonialism: Writing Transcultural Art Histories” (2019-2021), supported by Carlsberg Foundation, which examines the effects and affects of Nordic colonialism within the field of art. He is the curator of the visual culture exhibition Blind Spots. Images of the Danish West Indies Colony (2017-18), co-curated with Mette Kia Krabbe Meyer and Sarah Giersing at the Royal Danish Library, and has contributed to numerous journals and books, including collections such as Otherwise: Imagining Queer Feminist Art Histories (Manchester UP, 2016), Racialization, Racism, and Anti-Racism in the Nordic Countries (Palgrave, 2018), and Curatorial Challenges (Routledge, 2019). Danbolt is an Associate Professor of Art History at University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and member of The Young Academy, under The Royal Danish Academy of Science and Letters.

More information coming soon.

March 28

Medium-Specific Trompe l'Oeil: Notes Toward a General Theory
Noam M. Elcott (Columbia University)
Arts W-215, 4-6pm

Abstract: Whether the object of praise—as was the case at least since Pliny recounted the famous tale of Zeuxis, Parrhasius, the grapes that fooled the birds, and the curtain the fooled Zeuxis—or scorn, since at least the 18th century, when the term was coined, trompe l’oeil implied the near-complete suppression of the chosen material and medium (generally painting) in favor the illusory real presence of the depicted objects. I would like to chart a parallel history of trompe l’oeil, one in which the material substrate is constitutive of the illusion. Whereas the received wisdom asserts trompe l’oeil as the paradigmatic instance of medium-self-effacement, I chart a counter history of trompe l’oeil as a complex operation of medium-self-advertisement; in short: a media genealogy of medium-specific trompe l’oeil.

Bio: Noam M. Elcott is Associate Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, Chair of Art Humanities, an editor of the journal Grey Room, co-director of the Center for Comparative Media at Columbia University, and co-director of The August Sander Project (MoMA/Columbia). He is the author of Artificial Darkness: An Obscure History of Modern Art and Media (University of Chicago Press, 2016), winner of the 2017 Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) Anne Friedberg Innovative Scholarship Award, as well as essays on art, film, and media, published in leading journals, anthologies, and exhibition catalogues. His current book project is Art in the First Screen Age: László Moholy-Nagy and the Cinefication of the Arts (University of Chicago Press).

April 1

Making Art in the Light and Shadow of Historical Trauma
Tamar Garb (Durning Lawrence Professor of History of art and Director of the Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London)
Arts W-215, 4-6pm

Abstract: My paper explores the role of selected artworks in addressing the historical trauma of ‘race’. Focussing on three works by South African artists Santu Mofokeng, Zaneli Muholi and Berni Searle, I explore the ways in which their art complicates identitarian politics by staging ‘selves’ that are formally and psychically inflected by posited ‘others’. By placing themselves in a relationship of ‘sympathy’ with strangers, these artists dislodge the sage boundaries and secure separations that legislated difference entails. They offer neither therapeutic redress nor reparation for past injury but instead provide a poetic space for working through and questioning ongoing separation and suffering.

Bio: Tamar Garb is Durning Lawrence Professor in the History of Art and Director of the Institute of Advanced Studies at University College London. Her research interests have focused on questions of gender and sexuality, the woman artist and the body in nineteenth and early twentieth century French art and she has published extensively in this field. Key books in this area include Sisters of the Brush (1994), Bodies of Modernity (1998) and The Painted Face’(2007). Her interests have turned recently to post-apartheid culture and art in South Africa as well as the history of photographic and lens-based practices in Africa and she has curated a number of international exhibitions including Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography (Victoria & Albert Museum, London 2011), Distance and Desire: Encounters with the African Archive (Walther Collection: New York, Ulm and Berlin. 2014-2015) and William Kentridge and Vivienne Koorland: A Conversation in Letters and Lines, (Fruitmarket Gallery Edinburgh, 2016). She is an art critic who has written on many contemporary artists including Mona Hatoum, Nancy Spero, Marlene Dumas, Zanele Muholi, Sabelo Mlangeni and Santu Mofokeng.