Seminar on the histories of photography
LARCA – UMR 8225
Call for papers
This seminar seeks to bring together researchers from various backgrounds to study the uses of photography in the English-speaking world as well as their global impact.
From its inception, photography has been an instrument of memory-making as well as an artistic endeavor; it has become a versatile practice allowing to capture historical moments in the form of unique prints or, on the contrary, to expose them as comprehensive documentation or at least as material traces. With the emergence of a cultural history of American photography (Trachtenberg) as well as the rise of visual studies (Mitchell, Mirzoeff), the strong visual culture which is a particularity of the Anglo-American world, has become apparent. This heightened sensibility to images is reflected in a “collective memory” (not an uncontested notion) which is mainly constructed through photographic traces of the past.
The attribution of new spaces granted to photography in museums and archives has contributed to its institutionalization which, in turn, has reinforced the process of collective memory-making through images. When entering these institutionalized – allegedly objective – spaces, photography becomes subject to critical examination. Its contemporary practices are at times considered immemorable or even iconoclastic when the life of an image is ephemeral, its content limited or perhaps immoral. We therefore want to study the function(s) of photography in the construction – or the deconstruction – of memory by examining the various theories which appreciate and criticize this aspect.
This seminar welcomes proposals by doctoral candidates, PhDs, and professors in the humanities – and, when relevant, in the ”hard sciences” – who adopt a cultural, historical, sociological, esthetic, rhetorical, political, anthropological, or economic approach to the medium. Papers may treat methodological questions by re-examining existing theories (an attachment to cultural studies would be appreciated but is not required per se). From this perspective, photographic practices can be examined through the lens of art, illustration, press and other media coverage, documentation, survey, etc. Proposals may include but are not limited to the uses and applications of photography in museums, archives, memorial and discursive practices, as well as in private or public spaces, collective or individual uses, communal or universal spaces.
The seminar will start in January 2017, at the University Paris VII Denis Diderot and will take place every two months. Limited to two speakers per session, communications of about 30 to 40 minutes will be held in French or English, followed by a discussion.
Organizing committee: Camille Rouquet and Carolin Görgen, PhD candidates at the LARCA-UMR 8225. Sponsorship LARCA-François Brunet, Université Paris Diderot.
Please send your proposals (350 words or less) accompanied by a short biographical notice to firstname.lastname@example.org by October 31, 2016.