McGill Alert / Alerte de McGill

Updated: Fri, 07/12/2024 - 12:16

McGill Alert. The downtown campus will remain partially closed through the evening of Monday, July 15. See the Campus Safety site for details.

Alerte de McGill. Le campus du centre-ville restera partiellement fermé jusqu’au lundi 15 juillet, en soirée. Complément d’information : Direction de la protection et de la prévention

AHCS Speaker Series, 2016-17

The lecture series would like to thank the Dean of Arts Development Fund at 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 5:30pm.

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

Fall 2016

Thursday, September 29: Sonal Khullar

"Everyday Partitions: Contemporary Art and Exhibition Practice in South Asia"

Abstract: In the exhibition catalogue Lines of Control: Partition as a Productive Space (2012), Iftikhar Dadi notes “the resurgence of artistic engagement” with the Partition of India in 1947 after its striking absence from the field of the visual arts for most of the twentieth century. Indeed the problem of borders, nations, and partitions has figured prominently in recent projects by Bangladeshi, Indian, and Pakistani artists that cite the historical legacy of the Partition to reflect on the present. This talk examines recent exhibitions of contemporary art – My East is Your West (Venice, 2015), This Night-Bitten Dawn (Delhi, 2016), and The Missing One (Dhaka, 2016)— that represented collaborations between artists, curators, and patrons in South Asia, and reconsidered the region’s relation to history and futurity. These exhibitions took up Partition as a method and material with which to probe the making and unmaking of place, identity, community, and society in contemporary South Asia. In so doing, they enacted an aesthetics and politics that rejects national-cultural models for artistic production and display, and articulates new forms of postcolonial and global citizenship.

Bio: Sonal Khullar is an Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Washington. She is the author of Worldly Affiliations: Artistic Practice, National Identity, and Modernism in India, 1930-1990 (University of California Press, 2015). She is currently  at work on  a book, The Art of Dislocation: Conflict and Collaboration in Contemporary Art from South Asia, which examines how collaborative art practice has emerged as a critical response to globalization since the 1990s .

5:30 p.m., Arts W-215

Friday, September 30: Art + Feminism

Over 2,500 people at more than 175 events around the world participated in the 2016 Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, resulting in over 3,500 new and improved articles. A collective campaign to improve the representation of and increasing the participation of women on Wikipedia, the project emerged in the fall of 2013 as a response to the well-known gaps in the online encyclopedia. Siân Evans (Class of 2005), Jacqueline Mabey (Class of 2006) and Michael Mandiberg, the lead co-organizers of the Art+Feminism project, will discuss the origins of the project, its growth (and growing pains), and why the collective writing of history matters. Co- presented by the Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies, Art History & Communication Studies and the McGill Library.

3:30 p.m. 
Redpath Commons, Room A (enter through McLennan Library Building)

Tuesday, October 4: Matthew Jones

"Great Exploitations: Data Mining, Technological Determinism and the NSA"

Abstract: We cannot understand the programs revealed by Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers without understanding a broader set of historical development in the US and beyond before and after 9/11. First, with the growing spread of computation into everyday transactions from the 1960s into the 1990s, corporations and governments collected exponentially more information about consumers and citizens. To contend with this deluge of data, computer scientists, mathematicians, and business analysts created new fields of computational analysis, colloquially called “data mining,” designed to produce knowledge or intelligence from vast volume. Second, conservative legal scholars, government officers, and judges had long doubted the constitutionality of legal restrictions that the US Congress had placed on intelligence work, foreign and domestic, in the late 1970s. Facing the growth of the Internet and the increasing availability of high quality cryptography, national security lawyers within the US Department of Justice and the National Security Agency (NSA) began developing what was called a “modernization” of surveillance and intelligence law to deal with technological developments.  Third, in the Bill Clinton era, concerns about terrorist attacks on the United States came to focus heavily on the need to defend computer systems and networks. The asymmetrical nature of the terrorist threat had long challenged the traditional division of defense of the homeland versus offence abroad: attacks honored no territorial boundaries, and, neither, it increasingly came to seem, should defense against them. Protecting the “critical infrastructure” of the United States, the argument ran, required new domestic surveillance to find insecurities, and opened the door to much greater Department of Defense capability domestically and new NSA responsibilities. Tools for assessing domestic vulnerabilities lent themselves easily to discerning—and exploiting—foreign ones. And traditions of acquiring and exploiting any foreign sources of communication prompted the NSA to develop ever more invasive ways of hacking into computers and networks worldwide. In the immediate wake of 9/11, the Bush administration braided these developments, to create a massive global surveillance regime. The administration sought to make it appear at once technologically determined and essential for security in the global war of terror. The job of the NSA was “to exploit” communications networks—to make them available to policymakers; to do this, its lawyers “exploited” the law as well as technology. 

Bio: Matthew L. Jones is the James R. Barker Professor of Contemporary Civilization at Columbia University. His publications include "Querying the Archive: Data Mining from Apriori to Page Rank," in L. Daston, ed. Archives of the Sciences (Chicago, 2016); Reckoning with Matter: Calculating Machines, Innovation, and Thinking about Thinking from Pascal to Babbage (Chicago, 2016);  and The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 2006).

5:30 p.m., Arts 260 


Thursday, October 13: Hilliard T. Goldfarb

"Was Nicolas Poussin really an Atheist?: Faith, Archaeology and Classicism in Seventeenth-Century Rome"

Bio: Hilliard Goldfarb is Senior Curator of Collections and Curator of Old Masters at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. He has curated the exhibition Rembrandt Creates Rembrandt: Art and Ambition in Leiden, 1629–1631 at the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum in Boston (Sep. 2000 – Jan. 2001), and most recently Splendore a Venezia: Art and Music from the Renaissance to Baroque in Venice at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Oct. 2013 – Jan. 2014). 

He is the author of numerous publications and exhibition catalogues, including: Toulouse-Lautrec illustrates the Belle Epoque (Yale UP for Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 2016), From the Hands of the Masters: A Private Collection (Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, 2013), Richelieu: Art and Power (Monreal Museum of Fine Arts, 2002), Titian and Rubens: Power, Politics, and Style (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1998), Botticelli's Witness: Changing Style in a Changing Florence (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1997), A Humanist Vision: The Adolph Weil, Jr. Collection of Rembrandt Prints (Hood Museum of Art, 1988).

Abstract: Nicolas Poussin stands as the most revered artist in the history of France, although he lived and worked in Rome by choice for 40 years. This great figure influenced artists for centuries, from Jacques-Louis David to Pablo Picasso. To some extent, our vision of Poussin has been molded by the work of our brilliant predecessors, scholars who unconsciously and consciously brought their own predispositions, including atheism, into their characterizations and focuses upon him. Poussin became the model of cool intellectualism and severe classicism, as asserted by biographers and art theoreticians of his own times (e.g. Giovanni Pietro Bellori), the Académie Royale des Peintures and its post-revolutionary successor, as well as such modern scholars as Anthony Blunt, Jacques Thuillier and their successors: he has been academicised into the embodiment of French secular rationalism. Yet nearly half of his works bear religious themes, including two remarkable series of depictions of the Seven Sacraments, among his greatest masterpieces.

This lecture will explore aspects of the actual Roman culture that Poussin experienced, of the passion for archaeological rediscovery of the earliest Church history, from explorations of the catacombs to the researches of scholars such as Cardinal Cesare Baronio. It will also examine the broader religious climate in Rome in which Poussin himself worked for most of his active career. It will present the evidence of religious affiliations of those close to him, explore the nature of neo-Stoicism in the seventeenth century, a philosophical movement with which Poussin is generally associated, and will close on some revealing archival discoveries on the artist himself.

The thesis of this lecture is essentially that the weight of evidence, both circumstantial and direct, is that Poussin, contrary to being an atheist, was a sincerely believing Catholic. Such a positing of faith in no way diminishes the breadth of sources and subjects that the artist explored, nor a neo-stoic disposition. The talk will culminate in an exploration of one of the most moving of Nicolas Poussin’s works, his sombre and profoundly tragic depiction of the Crucifixion of Christ.

4:00 p.m., W-215

Monday, October 24: Media@McGill Beaverbrook Annual Lecture

Sheila Watt-Cloutier
Environmental Advocate, Author of The Right to Be Cold (2015), a book about the effects of climate change on Inuit communities

Steven Guilbeault
Cofounder and Senior Director, Equiterre

McGill University, Moot Court, Faculty of Law, 3644 Peel Street, 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, November 2: Edward Snowden (via videoconference), Media@McGill

Media@McGill has invited Edward Snowden to give a free, public talk (via videoconference). Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, best known for leaking documents in 2013 about NSA surveillance activities, will talk about surveillance in Canada.

Leacock 132, 855 Sherbrooke Street W, 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, November 3: André Dombrowski

“The Impressionist Instant and the Poetics of the Schedule”

Abstract: This lecture will consider the historical conjunction between the industrialization of time and Impressionism, the artistic style that made time and especially the instant its pivot. In particular, I will analyze the so-called “unification of time” in the 1870s to 1890s—the synchronization, standardization, and commercialization of precise time that marked the era—and the pressures it put on the speeds of modern depiction. Claude Monet at the Gare Saint-Lazare—one of the crucial sites of this transformation—will be the focus.

Bio: André Dombrowski’s research centers on the arts and material cultures of France and Germany in the mid to late nineteenth century, with an emphasis on the histories of science, politics, and psychology. He is particularly concerned with the social and intellectual rationales behind the emergence of avant-garde painting in the 1860s and 1870s, including Impressionism. Winner of the Phillips Book Prize from the Center for the Study of Modern Art at the Phillips Collection, he is author of Cézanne, Murder, and Modern Life (University of California Press, 2013). The book analyzes Cézanne’s early scenes of murder and sexual violence through the lens of pre-Freudian definitions of desire and instinct. He has started two new projects: one shorter book on the relation between Impressionism and the history of modern time-keeping (chapters will focus, for instance, on “reaction time” and the birth of Impressionism, or the advent of “universal time” in 1884 and its relationship to the serried order of Seurat’s pointillist technique); and a longer study that will situate the innovations of Édouard Manet’s major 1860s paintings within the Second Empire’s political and juridical cultures.

Arts W-215, 4:00 p.m.

Winter 2017

Wednesday, February 1: Simone Browne

"A Field Guide to Surveillance Studies and Blackness"

Arts W-215, 4:00 p.m.

Abstract: This talk situates blackness as an absented presence in the field of surveillance studies, and questions how a realization of the conditions of blackness—the historical, the present, and the historical present— can help social theorists understand our contemporary conditions of surveillance.

Bio: Simone Browne is Associate Professor in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She teaches and researches surveillance studies, digital media and black diaspora studies. Simone is an Executive Board member of HASTAC. She is also a member of Deep Lab, a feminist collaborative composed of artists, engineers, hackers, writers, and theorists.

Thursday, February 2: Communicating Climate Change in Canada, Media@McGill Panel

Candis Callison (UBC)
Mike De Souza (National Observer)
Martin Lukacs (The Guardian)
Kai Nagata (Dogwood)
Linda Solomon Wood (Observer Media Group) 

McGill University, Adams Auditorium, 3450 University Street, 6:00 p.m.


Tuesday, February 14: Media@McGill joint book launch

The Participatory Condition in the Digital Age
Edited by Darin Barney, Gabriella Coleman, Christine Ross, Jonathan Sterne, and Tamar Tembeck
University of Minnesota Press, 2016

Journalism in Crisis: Bridging Theory and Practice for Democratic Media Strategies in Canada
Edited by Mike Gasher, Colette Brin, Christine Crowther, Gretchen King, Errol Salamon, and Simon Thibault
University of Toronto Press, 2016

Paragraphe Bookstore, 2220 McGill College, 5:00 p.m.

Friday, February 24: Sumanth Gopinath

“‘Now you can finally throw out that Rolex’: Unboxing the Digital Watch and Beyond”
(co-sponsored with Faculty of Music)

Abstract: Among the innumerable bizarre and prominent video genre cultures found on YouTube, the "unboxing video," in which products are unwrapped from their packaging, ranks as a prominent and fascinating one. Thanks to YouTube's monetizing of video viewing, the unboxing video, which began as an amateur undertaking, has spawned an industry of micropayments to content providers (some of whom have thereby accrued substantial wealth) and the emergence of professional and semiprofessional unboxers. After beginning by recounting his accidental foray into the world of unboxing videos, the author provides a general account of the genre, reflects on the role of music and sound within it, and offers a broader set of reflections on the materialities of packaging within contemporary capitalism.

Bio: Sumanth Gopinath is Associate Professor of Music Theory at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities. He is the author of The Ringtone Dialectic: Economy and Cultural Form (MIT Press, 2013) and co-edited with Jason Stanyek The Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music Studies (2014). He is co-editing Rethinking Reich (forthcoming) with Pwyll ap Siôn and is working on various projects, including a revision of his dissertation on Steve Reich's "race" pieces from the mid-1960s.

4:15 p.m., 527 rue Sherbrooke Ouest

March 10: Climate Realism | Media@McGill International Colloquium

Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal (MAC)

Media@McGill’s international colloquium asks leading scholars in the humanities and social sciences to spell out a new research agenda for climate theory and aesthetics in the age of the Anthropocene. How is realism—in both the aesthetic history of representation and the philosophical tradition that underwrites it—transformed by contending with our new experience of climate in the Anthropocene? In order to temper climate change — to apprehend its complexity, to address its short- and long-term consequences, to mitigate its many sources — Climate Realism boldly claims we must develop new aesthetic theories and projects.


Friday, March 17: Peter Galison

Containment: Film Screening and Discussion
(co-sponsored with Media@McGill)

Bio: Galison is interested in the intersection of philosophical and historical questions such as these: What, at a given time, convinces people that an experiment is correct? How do scientific subcultures form interlanguages of theory and things at their borders?

More broadly, Galison's main work explores the complex interaction between the three principal subcultures of twentieth century physics--experimentation, instrumentation, and theory. The volume on experiment, How Experiments End (University of Chicago Press, 1987), and that on instruments, Image and Logic (University of Chicago Press, 1997), are to be followed by the final volume, "Building, Crashing, Thinking," that is still under construction. Einstein's Clocks, Poincaré's Maps (W.W. Norton, 2003) begins the study of theory by focusing on the ways in which the theory of relativity stood at the crossroads of technology, philosophy, and physics. Image & Logic won the Pfizer Award from the History of Science Society in October 1998.

In addition, Galison has launched several projects examining the powerful cross-currents between science and other fields. His book (with Lorraine Daston), Objectivity (Zone Books, 2007) asks how visual representation shaped the concept of scientific objectivity, and how atlases of scientific images continue, even today, to rework what counts as right depiction. Further work on the boundary between science and other fields includes his co-edited volumes on the relations between science, art and architecture, The Architecture of Science (MIT Press, 1999; ed. with Emily Thompson) and Picturing Science, Producing Art (Routledge, 1998; ed. with Caroline A. Jones), as well as Big Science: The Growth of Large-Scale Research (Stanford University Press, 1992; ed. with Bruce Hevly), The Disunity of Science: Boundaries, Contexts, and Power (Stanford University Press, 1996; ed. with David J. Stump), Atmospheric Flight in the Twentieth Century (Kluwer, 2000; ed. with Alex Roland), Scientific Authorship: Credit and Intellectual Property in Science (Routledge, 2003; ed. with Mario Biagioli), and Einstein for the 21st Century: His Legacy in Science, Art, and Modern Culture (Princeton University Press, 2008; ed. with Gerald Holton and Silvan S. Schweber).

Arts W-215, 11:30 - 2:30


March 20 - 21: The Art of Peace: Dutch and Flemish paintings at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ new Pavilion for Peace

Jan Blanc (l’Université de Genève), Angela Vanhaelen (McGill University), Hilliard Goldfarb (Montreal Museum of Fine Arts), Elizabeth Honig (University of California, Berkeley), Betsy Wieseman (National Gallery, London), Denis Ribouillault (Université de Montréal), Jacquelyn N. Coutré (Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University), Julie Hochstrasser (University of Iowa), Blaise Ducos (Musée du Louvre, Paris)

The international symposium The Art of Peace celebrates the opening of the new Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. In keeping with the theme of the pavilion and the strengths of the Hornstein collection in areas of still life and landscape especially, the event is framed around the subject of peace, broadly construed. From art theorist Karel van Mander’s dictum that painting loves peace and prosperity, to Hegel’s claim that Dutch paintings of everyday scenes depict the joys of a Sunday of life, to Svetlana Alpers’ assertion that the descriptive visual mode was a way to handle strife, Dutch and Flemish painting has long been perceived as a peaceful art. The invited speakers will address specific works in the collection in order to interrogate the connections between peace, conflict, and painting.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Maxwell-Cummings Auditorium

Tuesday, April 4: Derek Gregory

"The Death of the Clinic: surgical strikes and spaces of exception" 

Co-sponsored with Geography

Abstract: In war combatants are knowingly and deliberately exposed to death through the suspension of laws that would otherwise protect them  – in that sense the 'battlefield' is a space of exception' – but they are then afforded a measure of protection through international humanitarian law ('the laws of war').  Among other measures, these forbid direct and deliberate attacks on hospitals, medical workers and their patients: an exception to the exception.  Yet in our century attacks on hospitals, medical workers and their patients in conflict zones have become increasingly common.  Through a detailed analysis of the US air strike on the MSF Trauma Center in Kunduz (Afghanistan) and Russian and Syrian Arab Air Force strikes on hospitals and clinics in rebel-held territories in Syria this presentation probes the scale of these attacks, explores the intentions that lie behind them, and raises troubling questions about the implications for international humanitarian law. 

Bio:  Derek Gregory is Peter Wall Distinguished Professor at UBC, where he is based in the Department of Geography and the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies.  The author of "The colonial present: Afghanistan,   Derek Gregory is Peter Wall Distinguished Professor at UBC, where he is based in the Department of Geography and the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies.  The author of "The colonial present: Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq", he is currently completing two new books: one on the geography and genealogy of aerial violence from the First World War through to today's drone wars in the borderlands of the global South, and the other an examination of the wounded and injured body in conflict zones.  He was awarded the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 2006, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the British Academy. 

4:00-9:00 p.m.
Arts W-215

Thursday, April 6: Hamilton Perambulatory Unit

Donna Akrey, Taien Ng-Chan and Sarah E. Truman

“Walking thinking making mapping: mobile research with the HPU”

The Hamilton Perambulatory Unit invites you to a performative talk about practices of engaging with urban space, using some of the methods we have devised from our research. From Baudelaire and Benjamin to the Situationists and Fluxus, the city has long been fertile ground for creative practices. The HPU conducts public walks as creative propositions towards understanding the city and the self in relation to place. Our methodologies include stratigraphic cartography, locative media experimentation, sensory synesthesia poetry-writing, and found material sculpture-making. During this talk, HPU will give a summary of our past collaborations as well as conduct a short on-the-spot research project with the audience.

Arts W-215, 4:00 p.m.

April 20-22: Bodies in Difference: Race and Performance in and beyond North America

Bodies in Difference is a multifaceted three-day event combining a main-stage performance, student-led performance workshops and showcase, and an academic conference on the topic of race in performance. The overarching goal of Bodies in Difference is to bring together artist-practitioners and academic researchers working in Canada and internationally, to create dialogues around the study and practice of race in performance. Racial representations permeate the industries of theatre, performance, film, media, and the arts, with consequences for how people are perceived in daily life. Across Canada, the United States, and Europe, arts organizations are increasingly interested in utilizing theatre and performance to bring the stories and perspectives of racial minorities to national stages. In Canada, the goals of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission include enhancing Indigenous artists’ participation in arts networks. Nuanced scholarship on race and performance is flourishing as well. But theatre’s tools for critiquing racism remain unevenly implemented, and all too often scholars are not in dialogue with artist-practitioners, audiences, students, or members of the general public. Bodies in Difference seeks to correct this situation by creating an inclusive, accessible event that will sensitize diverse audiences to the importance of teaching and staging performances of racial identity and difference, and the ways that theatre and the arts can address racial stereotyping and discrimination. All activities and events will be free of charge and open to the public, video-recorded and livestreamed on the conference website, and archived for up to five years after the event.

Bodies in Difference commences with a performance of the autobiographical solo play Monstrous, or the Miscegenation Advantage, by Caribbean-Canadian playwright, performer, scholar, and artistic director Sarah Waisvisz. Subsequent events include: two plenary presentations by internationally renowned scholars of race and performance Helen Gilbert and Harvey Young; panels and roundtables touching on pedagogical and dramaturgical approaches to staging race; and student-created original performances of 10-15 minutes and 30-60 minutes, paired with invited presenters who will provide critical feedback. Panels and roundtables address: pitfalls and techniques of teaching race in the theatre theory and practice classroom; challenges and methods of staging racially complex plays and performances and creating nuanced reception of these works; local artists’ experiences making performances that tackle issues of race in Montreal, Quebec, and Canada; conversations on race and performance across the theory-practice divide; and research challenges of the race and performance archive.

April 28: While No One Was Looking, AHCS GSA art opening and magazine release

This event marks the opening of an exhibition curated by the Art History and Communication Studies Graduate Student Association (AHCS GSA) and release of in-print magazine, Art/iculation. While No One Was Looking will showcase diverse perspectives from an intersectional group of local artists and emerging scholars, all reflecting on the act of bearing witness in the context of Montreal's 375th anniversary. Particular focus will be given to the written and unwritten stories of the land on which Montreal was colonised, the unceded territory of the Kanien’kehá:ka nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. The exhibition will remain open to the public for two weeks and free copies ofArt/iculation will be available at the gallery. For more information, please visit:

MainLine Gallery, 3905 St-Laurent (accessible), 7-11 p.m.



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