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Monday, November 9, 2009

"Three Criteria for Inclusion in, or Exclusion from a Possible World History of Art"

The art history department is pleased to announce "Three Criteria for Inclusion in, or Exclusion from a Possible World History of Art" a presentation by Professor Stephen F. Eisenman, from Northwestern University on November 19, 2009 at 4:30 p.m. in Blegen 245.

"Three Criteria for Inclusion in, or Exclusion from a Possible World History of Art"
On Thursday, November 19th at 4:30, in Blegen 245, Professor Stephen F. Eisenman, from Northwestern University, will present a lecture entitled "Three Criteria for Inclusion in, or Exclusion from a Possible World History of Art."
There exists a portmanteau of concepts - spectacle, other, rhizomatic, transnational, flows, simultaneity, space, place, sovereignty, hybridity, multivocality, subaltern, mass, multitide, network - which, if sometimes used loosely, at least provide the common jargon necessary for the formation of a World History of Art. But theoretical perspicuity does not necessarily constitute disciplinary rigor. However subtle and sophisticated scholars may be about how to go about the study of world art, they have achieved little consensus about what to study, sometimes reverting to an otherwise discredited cultural relativism. The result is impressionistic chaos. The only alternative, Eisenman argues, is cultural discrimination, recognizing however that judgments concerning the subject matter of the World History of Art will always be contingent. If they ever solidify, art history will be back in the bad old days of ossified canons and ethnocentrism. But in order to discriminate, it is necessary to have criteria. The lecture offers three possible criteria for inclusion in a World History of Art.
Stephen F. Eisenman (Ph.D. 1984, Princeton; Professor) has dedicated his career to the proposition that the best scholarship requires a critical engagement with the present as well as the past. He thus researches, writes and reads across many disciplines, and is active in contemporary social and political movements. He is the author of seven major books and exhibition catalogues, including The Temptation of Saint Redon (1992), Gauguin's Skirt (1997), and The Abu Ghraib Effect (2007). He is also the editor and principle author of the most widely used textbook in its field, Nineteenth Century Art: A Critical History (1994/third edition 2007). Professor Eisenman has curated many exhibitions in the United States and Europe, and his next one, Impressionism -- The Ecological Landscapes will be held at the Complesso Vittoriano in Rome and open in March 2010. Throughout 2008-2009, Stephen Eisenman has been working with a group of Chicago artists, lawyers, and activists to end torture in a notorious Illinois prison. His article on the subject, "The Resistible Rise and Predictable Fall of the American Supermax," will be published in Monthly Review in 2010. In 2009-2010, Eisenman with serve as Chair of the General Faculty Committee, the leading governance organ of the faculty of Northwestern University.