Graduate Exhibitions & Conferences

Potentials of Ecocriticism - February 8-9, 2019

Braddock and Irmscher (2009) define ecocriticism as a critical approach that “emphasizes issues of environmental interconnectedness, sustainability, and justice” in order to inflect the existing vocabularies, tropes, and epistemologies of cultural interpretation.

As such, ecocritical analyses often engage with the material forms and discursive constructions of media infrastructures. Parks and Starosielski (2015) note that media infrastructures have been and continue to be used “to claim and reorganize territories and temporal relations.” Their material dependence on and interconnectedness with the environment imbricate media infrastructures within issues of resource development, urban planning, Indigenous and national sovereignties, surveillance, labour, etc.

How can art history and communication studies adopt ecocriticism as an interpretative paradigm in their respective analyses? More specifically, in which ways can they incorporate environmental history and ecology in order to develop what Braddock and Irmscher (2009) describe as “a more earth-conscious mode of analysis”?

Held over February 8th and 9th, the AHCS Graduate Symposium opened with a screening of Anthropocene: The Human Epoch and a discussion with director Jennifer Baichwal. Saturday included paper presentations, a keynote lecture by Brian R. Jacobson (University of Toronto) entitled "French Art in the Age of Oil", and a concluding panel discussion with Brian R. Jacobson, Christine Ross, and Darin Barney.


While No One Was Looking - April 26-May 6, 2017

While No One Was Looking presented an exhibition, magazine (Art/iculation), artist/scholar panel discussion, film screening of The Saver at Le Salon 1861, and satellite exhibit on-campus, that commemorate Montreal as a city of Indigenous peoples, peoples of colour, and immigrants. The project aims to make space for dialogue and encounter around decolonial concepts of place and agency, foreground marginalized experiences and histories, and decenter dominant celebrations of colonialism.


Magic: Between Embodiment and Ontology - February 19-20, 2016

Magic: Between Embodiment and Ontology was a two-day interdisciplinary faculty and emerging scholars symposium. February 19th-20th, 2016. The conference seeks to engage and support graduate scholarship from Canada and abroad.

Keynote Speakers: Professor of Art & Architecture at Hobart & William Smith Colleges, Liliana Leopardi Ph.D. Candidate in the Performance Studies Department at New York University, Aliza Shvarts

The aim of this symposium is to examine the ways in which magic, in any incarnation, is used as both a transformative element to inspire civil action as well a communicative channel for intersubjective relations. The symposium seeks to trace magic’s communicative capacities through material culture.

The scope in which magic interacts and/or informs scholarship is broad and we hope for the conference to capture a snapshot of the ways in which magic affects material culture. The symposium will examine the roles in which magic or the mystic has played and generate a productive dialogue around such topics as alchemy, the occult, esoteric, rituals, science, early technology, spiritualism, etc.


Silence!: McGill AHCS Emerging Scholars Conference - April 24, 2015

Silence itself—the things one declines to say, or is forbidden to name, the discretion that is required between different speakers—is less the absolute limit of discourse, the other side from which it is separated by a strict boundary, than an element that functions alongside the things said, with them and in relation to them within over-all strategies. […]There is not one but many silences, and they are an integral part of the strategies that underlie and permeate discourses. (Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality Vol. 1: An Introduction) Silence plays the irreducible role of that which bears and haunts language, outside and against which alone language can emerge. (Jacques Derrida, Writing and Difference) What is silence? How is it kept or broken? Silence is often used to describe who and what is repressed and subjugated: “being silenced” and “not having a voice.” This conference aims to explore the relations between silence, the unspeakable and the unheard, as well as the ways in which silence is represented, interpreted, and subverted.

Keynote lecture by Jonathan D. Katz.


Innovations and Its Contestants - April 18, 2014
Fifth Annual Emerging Scholars Conference

Innovation is a buzzword with remarkable contemporary currency, one frequently instrumentalized in the constant search for new technologies, means of production, market adaptations, scientific discoveries and social changes. With its more insidious applications in mind, a number of recent academic discussions – from visual culture studies and the global art history to the history of science and media archaeology – have come to treat the paradigm with caution, even scepticism. Yet at the same time, for better or for worse, it remains implicit within the bulk of humanistic academic production. This one-day interdisciplinary conference thus confronts innovation at a crossroads. It interrogates its place within theory and praxis by asking: How are we best to approach and define innovation in contemporary academic discourses? Is the paradigm purely a means of disarming social pressure for an all-inclusive equalized prosperity; or might it be recuperated to provide a stimulus for sustainable growth? Can we understand innovation in a broader global spectrum without falling into the trap of cultural essentialism; or does this concept perpetuate Western-centric views and mores? Can the concept of innovation be used for the analysis of historical periods; or does it figure too easily in teleological narratives?

Keynote lecture by Dr. Keith Moxey: “Imagining Time: The Temporality of Art’s History”.


The Tangible: A One-Day Graduate Conference - April 26, 2013

Speakers from a diverse range of fields shared their research on the affective, material and phenomenological stakes of tangibility.  From the sensory to the technological and the scientific to the emotive, the conference spanned many histories, methods, and meanings of the tangible.

Keynote Lecture by Constance Classen: "The Medium is the Massage: Digital Media, Virtual Tactilites and Sensorial Ideologies".