Experiencing Mass Images. April 16-17, 2015
Experiencing Mass Images
Thursday, April 16 & Friday, April 17, 2015
A two-day conference
Drs. Jennifer Roberts, Michael Leja and Jennifer Greenhill provide interdisciplinary approaches to investigating the impact of mass images on American experience in recent history (circa 1750-1930). These scholars are interested in how developments in the production, consumption and use of widely reproduced images can indicate social change, resistance, or unrest. Their presentations will coalesce around questions relating to the material dimension of mass images and how viewers cognitively and physically interact with them. Effectively, the speakers will seek to address the phenomenological dimension of popular culture and its literacies.
Michael Leja, Art History, U Penn
Michael Leja (Ph.D., Harvard) studies the visual arts in various media (painting, sculpture, film, photography, prints, illustrations) in the 19th and 20th centuries, primarily in the United States. His work is interdisciplinary and strives to understand visual artifacts in relation to contemporary cultural, social, political, and intellectual developments. He is especially interested in examining the interactions between works of art and particular audiences. His book Looking Askance: Skepticism and American Art from Eakins to Duchamp (2004) traces the interactions between the visual arts and the skeptical forms of seeing engendered in modern life in northeastern American cities between 1869 and 1917. It won the Modernist Studies Association Book Prize in 2005.
Jennifer A. Greenhill, Art History, UIUC
Jennifer A. Greenhill is Associate Professor of Art History with an appointment in the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She specializes in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American art and visual culture, with an emphasis on intermedial and intercultural objects, race and the politics of visuality, and intersections between elite and popular forms of expression. Greenhill recently published Playing It Straight: Art and Humor in the Gilded Age (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), which investigates the strategies artists devised to simultaneously conform to and humorously undermine “serious” culture during the late nineteenth century, when calls for a new cultural sophistication ran headlong into a growing public appetite for humor.
Jennifer L. Roberts, Art History, Harvard
Jennifer L. Roberts is Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities, Harvard College Professor, and Chair of the Program in American Studies. She teaches American art from the colonial period to the present, with particular focus on issues of landscape, material culture, print culture, and the history of science. She received her A.B. from Stanford and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale. Her book Mirror-Travels: Robert Smithson and History was published in 2004 by Yale University Press. It examines the ways in which Smithson’s celebrated earthworks and traveling projects of the 1960s and 70s confront the social and material histories of the sites they occupy. She has also published numerous essays and reviews on 18th, 19th and 20th century American art and material culture, and is a co-author of the Prentice Hall textbook American Encounters: Art, History, and Cultural Identity (2007). She recently curated a curricular exhibition on Jasper Johns and the materiality of print, published as Jasper Johns/In Press: The Crosshatch Works and the Logic of Print (Harvard Art Museums, 2012).
This conference is cosponsored by the Department of Art History, the Center for Early Modern History, the Early Modern Atlantic Workshop, the Council of Graduate Students, the Department of English, and the Department of American Studies.