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Speaker Series 2008-09

Fall 2008

All lectures will be held at 5:30 pm in room W-215 in the Art History and Communication Studies Department in the Arts Building at McGill University unless otherwise noted. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Thursday September 18
Adrian Rifkin, Professor of Art Writing, Goldsmiths, University of London.
"Loosing myself, or the archive of the next"

Tuesday October 14
Vanessa Schwartz, Professor of History, Art History and Film, University of Southern California.
"The Cannes Film Festival and the Rise of Paparazzi Photography"
Keynote lecture Media@McGill.
**lecture held at Thomson House at 5:30.

Wednesday October 22
Soshana Magnet, post-doctoral fellow in Communication Studies, McGill University.
"Imagining Security: The Social Construction of Biometric Technologies"

Thursday November 20
Catherine Clinger, visiting assistant professor of Art History McGill University and Research Fellow University of New Mexico.
"Below the Surface of a Snout: The Cavernous Culture of Ear, Nose, and Throat Medicine in the Romantic Age"

Wednesday December 3
Andrew Piper, Assistant Professor, German Studies Department, McGill University.
"Overwriting, Afterimages: A History of the Intermedial Line,"
Opening lecture for the Iconotopoi / Bildkulturen(Cultures of the Image), a joint Eikones-McGill graduate conference hosted by the Department of Art History and Communications Studies.

Friday December 5
Ludger Schwarte, Assistant Professor in the Theory of Images, University of Basel, Eikones Research Group.
"What you see when you get Bild - and why it makes sense to use one concept rather than two (picture, image)"
This is the keynote lecture for the joint Eikones-McGill conference.

Winter 2009

Jill Casid

January 15

Jill Casid, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Time and Location: 5:30 pm at the Department of Art History and Communication Studies, room Arts W-215.

Title: "Transplantation and Chimeras: Early Modern Practices of Change at the Edges of the Human"

Brief Abstract: The lecture extends work begun in Sowing Empire: Landscape and Colonization (2005) to address the implications of early modern discourses of transplantation for contemporary debates around practices of transplantation, particularly stem cell technology. Contemporary discourses and practices of transplantation and the present use of the name "chimera" to designate transplant subjects have, I propose, a colonial history. The early modern relocation and (cross)breeding of human bodies, animals, and plants suggest that current discourses and representations of transplantation are deeply imbricated with colonial taxonomies of race and gender, with colonial hierarchies of what is "human" and what counts as "culture," and with early modern practices of what Michel Foucault called "biopower" or, in this case, the production of power through efforts to control reproduction.

Professor Casid will also particpate in a Seminar on Friday, January 16, in Arts W-220 from 1:35-4pm.

Jill H. Casid is Associate Professor of Visual Culture Studies in the Department of Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  As a historian, a theorist of visual culture, and a practicing artist in photo-based media, her work explores the productive tensions between theory, the problems of the archive and the writing of history, issues of gender, race and sexuality, and the performative and processual aspects of visual objects and imaging.  Her research in visual studies and in vision and aesthetics includes her book Sowing Empire: Landscape and Colonization (2005) and her forthcoming book Shadows of Enlightenment—both with the University of Minnesota Press.  She has just begun a new book project, "The Volatile Image: Other Histories of Photography," that reconsiders photography as a complex and unstable medium.  Her interest in pursuing the implications of "trans" for the study of visual culture extends to the international visual culture conference on the theme of "trans" which she co-organized (at University of Wisconsin-Madison in October 2006), the video exhibition she guest curated for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (2006), and the anthology she is planning on "Visual Transculture."  In addition to creating a new curriculum in visual culture studies and contributing to the development of curatorial and museum studies, she also directs the new Visual Culture Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Darin Barney

February 12

Darin Barney, Canada Research Chair in Technology & Citizenship, Dept. of Art History & Communication Studies, McGill University and Associate Scholar-in-Residence, Canadian Centre for Architecture.  

Time and Location: Thursday, 6 pm at the Shaughnessy House, Canadian Centre for Architecture, 1920 rue Baile, Montreal, QC.

Title: "What goes up, must come down: the politics of prairie grain elevators"

Abstract: In the mid-1930's there were approximately 5700 wooden grain elevators in western Canada.  Today, fewer than 200 remain, most having been replaced by centralized "high-throughput terminals" capable of storing and loading massive volumes of grain destined for global markets.  Even as it disappears, the country grain elevator remains an iconic structure, prominent in romantic visual representations of the prairie landscape. This talk will explore what is at stake in the demise of the country elevator, beyond its place in the visual imagination of the Canadian prairies. The case of the country elevator reveals a great deal about the relationship between politics and technology, between infrastructure, power and public life, and about the dynamics of citizenship in rural settings.


The Realist, by Thomas Couture, 1865.

February 18 (Wednesday)

Johanne Lamoureux, University of Montreal Department of Art History and Film Studies.

Time and Location: 5:30 pm in Leacock Room L-26.

Title: "An Appetite for Reality: Zola's Meat Manifesto"

Abstract: Generally known for his central role in Zola's The Masterpiece (1886), the painter Claude Lantier makes a first appearance in the third novel of Zola's saga, The Belly of Paris (1873), where a quite different notion of the masterpiece is presented. In chapter four of the book, Lantier describes his true "masterpiece": it is an actual meat display that he "composed" in a pork-butcher shop. My talk will contextualize this excerpt and examine the emblematic value of meat in relation to the aesthetic debate around 1865. It will track down the social, sexual, philosophical and artistic subtexts of the scandalous display, insisting on both its carnal and carnavalesque resonances.

Johanne Lamoureux, professor in the department of art history and film studies at the University of Montreal, has been widely published, most especially within the field of contemporary art history, criticism, and theory. She has curated several exhibitions in major Canadian museums and has contributed to an extensive list of prominent exhibition catalogues, book chapters, and journal articles. She is a joint contributor, with Donald Preziosi, of In the Aftermath of Art (London, 2005), and editor, with Christine Ross and Olivier Asselin, of the forthcoming Precarious Visualities (Montreal, 2008). She is editor-in-chief of the scholarly periodical Intermédialités. While at the Clark, Lamoureux will take up her investigation of how visual and literary re/presentations of meat construct a motif that is an emblematic locus of modernity.


Lisa Parks

March 12
(Read a review of the event.)

Lisa Parks, Film and Media Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Co-sponsored with Media@McGill.

Time and Location: 5:30 pm at the Department of Art History and Communication Studies, room Arts W-215.

Title: "Digging into Google Earth: An Analysis of the 'Crisis in Darfur' Project."

Abstract: The goal of this essay is to develop a series of critical questions for engaging with Google Earth layers and the kinds of historical and geographic knowledges they are used to produce. Like global newscasts, Google Earth interfaces appropriate satellite imagery to represent world historical events, yet they differ in that the field of representation has been opened in an unprecedented way to geographically dispersed users with various vantage points, social backgrounds and political interests. The essay moves from a discussion of specific uses of Google Earth for "humanitarian" purposes concentrating upon the crisis in Darfur, Sudan and proceeds to offer a detailed critique of the Google Earth layer using four categories of analysis: 1) the shifting role of satellite image; 2) the temporality of the interface; 3) the practice of conflict branding; and 4) the practice of information intervention. The project builds upon earlier work on satellite imaging and world politics and critiques of disaster capitalism, and suggests that a "Google Earth effect" may overtake the "CNN effect."

Lisa Parks, Ph.D., is Chair and Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara, where she is also an affiliate of the Department of Art and has served on the Executive Committee on the College of Creative Studies. Her research explores uses of satellite, computer and television technologies in a transnational context. She is the author of Cultures in Orbit: Satellites and the Televisual (Duke University Press 2005) and co-editor of Planet TV: A Global Television Reader (NYU Press 2003) and Undead TV (Duke UP, 2007). She has published essays in numerous books and journals and is also co-producer of media arts projects such as Experiments in Satellite Media Arts with Ursula Biemann (2002), Loom with Miha Vipotnik (2003), Postwar Footprints (2005), and Roaming (2008). Parks is director of the Global Cultures in Transition research initiative for the Center for Information Technology and Society at UCSB. She is currently writing two new books--Mixed Signals: Media Infrastructures and Cultural Geographies and Coverage: Media Space and Security after 911, and is co-editing a book called Down to Earth: Satellite Technologies, Industries and Cultures with James Schwoch.


March 23 (Monday)
Read press coverage of the event here and here and listen to a short interview with Orenstein on CBC's Radio Noon.

Catherine Orenstein

Catherine Orenstein, Founder and Director of The Op-Ed Project.

Co-sponsored with Media@McGill and with the Office of the Dean of Students at McGill University.

Time and Location: Monday, March 23rd 6pm in the Beaverbrook Seminar Room (230), 840 Dr. Penfield (Ferrier Building), McGill Campus.

Title: "Whoever Tells the Story Writes History: Public Debate and the Politics of Persuasion."

Abstract: In the United States, public debate across a variety of platforms is overwhelmingly dominated by a narrow section of society – mostly white, privileged and (about 85%) male. What are the reasons – and more importantly, what are the consequences – and solutions? To what extent is the same true for the Canadian public sphere? These questions have been heavily debated, particularly in recent years, and I give a brief overview (and critique) of some of the conventional thinking on the root cause of the problem, before addressing the consequences and solutions from the perspective of a journalist, activist and founder of The OpEd Project. I talk about how the narrow range of voices that shape our national (and international) conversation has colored the topics we hear about, the things we understand as problems, and our understanding of leadership. In particular, I discuss how the dearth of women's voices in public discourse has affected the way research is conducted, stories are reported, and history plays out. I use examples from folklore and mythology, journalism, and science (our understanding of human conception, sexual selection, and heart disease, to take three examples, has been heavily shaped by gender stereotypes.) Finally, I share observations and raise questions, generated by our work with 2,200 women experts (in some ways like a series of intense focus groups), about why this imbalance exists, why women in particular tend to write themselves out of the story, and how to reverse what I call the "culture of self-abnegation" – in which marginalized voices affirm their marginality.

Catherine Orenstein, Founder and Director of The Op-Ed Project, has contributed to the op-ed pages of the New York Times, Washington Post and Miami Herald. Her opinion pieces on women, popular culture, mythology and human rights have been nationally syndicated and appear in anthologies. She has lectured at Harvard and appeared on ABC TV World News, Good Morning America, MSNBC, CNN and NPR All Things Considered. Her first book, Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality & the Evolution of a Fairy Tale, explores the stories told about women over five hundred years, and how these stories impact our lives. It has been translated into multiple languages and is under consideration for a television series. Newsweek called it "revelatory," The Wall Street Journal called it "beguiling," feminist author Naomi Wolf called it "laid back, readable brilliance," and Harvard folklore authority Maria Tatar wrote, "trained as a folklorist, Orenstein also has a writer's gift for making her account sparkle with dazzling in–sights."


April 7 (Tuesday)

James Love

James Love, Director,
Knowledge Ecology International.

A Media@McGill event, co-sponsored with McGill University's Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and the Department of Art History and Communication Studies.

Time and Location: 5:30 pm at the Department of Art History and Communication Studies, room Arts W-215.

Topic: "NGO efforts to reform the World Intellectual Property Organization."

James Love is the Director of Knowledge Ecology International (KEI). Mr. Love is also the U.S. co-chair of the Trans-Atlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) Working Group on Intellectual Property, chair of Essential Inventions, an advisor to the X-Prize Foundation on a prize for TB diagnostics, and a member of the UNITAID Expert Group on Patent Pools, the MSF Working Group on Intellectual Property, the Stop-TB Partnership working group on new drug development and the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Dynamic Coalition on Open Standards. He advises a number of UN agencies, national governments, international and regional intergovernmental organizations and public health NGOs, and is the author of a number of articles and monographs on innovation and intellectual property rights. In 2006, Knowledge Ecology International received a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.

Mr. Love was previously Senior Economist for the Frank Russell Company, a lecturer at Rutgers University, and a researcher on international finance at Princeton University. He holds a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a Masters in Public Affairs from Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

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.