Annual Art History and Communication Studies Departmental Symposium

Thursday, April 25, 2013 12:00to15:45
Arts Building W-215, 853 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, QC, H3A 0G5, CA

Please join the Department of Art History and Communications for our Annual Symposium on Thursday, April 25th, 2013 from 12:00 pm to 3:45pm. All are welcome. 



12:00pm - 12:50pm: Darin Barney

Grain of truth: wheat, barley and oats as truth-procedure

In this paper, I will discuss recent changes to the grain handling and marketing systems on the Canadian prairies, up to and including the dismantling of the Canadian Wheat Board’s single desk. Focusing on the story of the Battle River Railway in central Alberta, the paper will chart a series of material changes that have worked to undermine the democratic, co-operative subjectivity that has historically characterized prairie grain producers and to encourage in its place a subjectivity more consonant with contemporary neoliberalism. It will also recount organized efforts by farmers to resist these changes, arguing that these latter are exemplary of Alain Badiou’s account of politics as a “truth-procedure.” 

12:55pm - 1:45pm: Angela Vanhaelen

Bodies in Motion: Automata in the Labyrinths of Early Modern Amsterdam

Although not well remembered, the Amsterdam Labyrinth gardens were much-publicized civic attractions in the seventeenth century. Publicity materials provide detailed descriptions and imagery of the novel attractions displayed at these pleasure gardens, which included multi-cursal hedge mazes, fountains embellished with unusual hydraulic effects, waxworks, and automata: mechanical figures that moved “as if they were alive” the guidebooks proclaim. This paper analyses these exhibition sites as commercial urban spaces for the display of technological novelties. By assessing how itinerant visitors moved through the maze gardens, I argue that they were innovative spatial and temporal apparatuses that aimed to incorporate new technologies, experiences, and understandings of the human body into early modern society.


- Break: 1:45pm to 2:00pm - 

2:00pm - 2:50pm: Becky Lentz

Textual Politics: Rendering Visible the Discursive Infrastructure of Policy Advocacy

Policy advocacy, especially on digital media policy issues like “network neutrality”, is largely an insider’s game demanding considerable technical, legal, political, and economic expertise. Drawing on information infrastructure, critical discourse, document, and genre theory, I provide a framework for understanding the necessary genre-knowledge that outsiders must marshal in order to represent their interests in policy change. By focusing on the Media Action Grassroots Network—a local-to-local advocacy network of community organizations in the U.S. working together to end poverty, eliminate racism, and ensure human rights—this paper analyzes how typically marginalized groups managed to mobilize such knowledge in the network neutrality debate between 2002 and 2012.


2:55pm - 3:45pm: Jeff Moser

Chinese Bronzes in Ritual Time

The eleventh century witnessed a clash in China between two competing systems for reconstructing classical Confucian liturgies – one derived from transmitted texts, the other from excavated artifacts. In this paper, I argue that the negotiation of this conflict was conditioned by a classical tension between linear and cyclical models of ritual time. By explaining how this tension affected the choices that artisans made when using ancient bronzes as models for new objects, I demonstrate why many of the forms conventionally deemed “archaistic” in the liturgical arts of late imperial China might more appropriately be termed atemporal.

Reception to follow


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