New Book | Empire of Ruin: Black Classicism

Posted in books by Editor on October 17, 2017

From Oxford UP:

John Levi Barnard, Empire of Ruin: Black Classicism and American Imperial Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 248 pages, ISBN: 978 019066 3599, $75.

From the US Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and the 9/11 Memorial Museum, classical forms and ideas have been central to an American nationalist aesthetic. Beginning with an understanding of this centrality of the classical tradition to the construction of American national identity and the projection of American power, Empire of Ruin describes a mode of black classicism that has been integral to the larger critique of American politics, aesthetics, and historiography that African American cultural production has more generally advanced. While the classical tradition has provided a repository of ideas and images that have allowed white American elites to conceive of the nation as an ideal Republic and the vanguard of the idea of civilization, African American writers, artists, and activists have characterized this dominant mode of classical appropriation as emblematic of a national commitment to an economy of enslavement and a geopolitical project of empire. If the dominant forms of American classicism and monumental culture have asserted the ascendancy of what Thomas Jefferson called an “empire for liberty,” for African American writers and artists it has suggested that the nation is nothing exceptional, but rather another iteration of what the radical abolitionist Henry Highland Garnet identified as an “empire of slavery,” inexorably devolving into an “empire of ruin.” Washington architecture.

John Levi Barnard is an Assistant Professor of English at The College of Wooster.

1  Phillis Wheatley and the Affairs of State
2  In Plain Sight: Slavery and the Architecture of Democracy
3  Ancient History, American Time: Charles Chesnutt and the Sites of Memory
4  Crumbling into Dust: Conjure and the Ruins of Empire
5  National Monuments and the Residue of History




Call for Papers | The Cultural Heritage of Europe @ 2018

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on October 17, 2017

From H-ArtHist:

The Cultural Heritage of Europe @ 2018: Re-Assessing a Concept, Re-Defining Its Challenges
Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA), Paris, 4–5 June 2018

Proposals due by 10 November 2017

Today’s globalized concept of cultural heritage is often understood as a product of European modernity with its 19th-century emergence of territorially fixed nation-states and collective identity constructions. Within the theoretical overlap of the disciplines of history (of art), archaeology and architecture cultural properties and built monuments were identified and embedded into gradually institutionalized protection systems. In the colonial context up to the mid-20th century this specific conception of cultural heritage was transferred to non-European contexts, internationalized in the following decades after the WWII and taken as universal.

Postcolonial, postmodern, and ethnically pluralistic viewpoints did rightly question the supposed prerogative of a European Leitkultur. Only rather recently did critical heritage studies engage with the conflicting implications of progressively globalized standards of cultural heritage being applied in very local, non-European and so-called ‘traditional’ contexts. However, in order to bridge what academia often tends to essentialize as a ‘Western’ and ‘non-Western’ divide of opposing heritage conceptions, a more balanced viewpoint is also needed in order to update the conceptual foundations of what ‘cultural heritage of/in Europe’ means today.

The European Cultural Heritage Year 2018 — A Campaign with Unquestioned Assumptions?

Right at the peak of an identity crisis of Europe with financial fiascos of whole nation states, military confrontations, and refortified state borders at its continental peripheries with inflows of refugees from the Near East and the Global South did the European Council and Parliament representatives reach a provisional agreement to establish a European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018. With affirmative slogans such as “We Europeans” and “Our common European heritage”, the campaign intends to “raise awareness of European history and values, and strengthen a sense of European identity” (Press release of the European Council, 9 February 2017). However, with its unquestioned core assumption of the validity of Europe’s territorial status with simply interconnected borderlines of its affiliated member states and of a given collective ‘we’-identity within the European Union, this cultural-political campaign risks to miss the unique chance of a critical re-assessment of how a ‘European’ dimension of cultural heritage can be conceptualized in today’s globalized and inter-connected reality.

The ‘Cultural Heritage of Europe’ @ 2018 — Towards a Global and Transcultural Approach

The global and transcultural turn in the disciplines of art and architectural history and cultural heritage studies helps to question the supposed fixity of territorial, aesthetic, and artistic entity called Europe, more precisely the taxonomies, values and explanatory modes that have been built into the ‘European’ concept of cultural heritage and that have taken as universal.

By taking into consideration the recent processes of the accelerated exchange and global circulation of people, goods and ideas, the conference aims to reconstitute the old-fashioned units of analysis of what ‘European cultural heritage’ could be by locating the European and the non-European in a reciprocal relationship in order to evolve a non-hierarchical and broader conceptual framework. With a focus on cultural properties (artefacts), built cultural heritage (from single architectures, ensembles and sites to whole city- and cultural landscapes etc.), and their forms of heritagization (from archives, museums, collections to cultural reserves), case-studies for the conference can address the various forms of the ‘cultural’ within heritage: its ‘social’ level (actors, stakeholders, institutions etc.), its ‘mental’ level (concepts, terms, theories, norms, categories), and, most obviously, its ‘physical’ level with a view on manipulative strategies (such as transfer and translation, reuse and mimicry, replication and substitution etc.).

Grouped along four panels in two days, cases-studies should question the concept of cultural heritage with its supposedly ‘European’ connotations and dimensions within artefacts and monuments by destabilizing at least one of its four constitutive core dimensions:
1) Place and Space – from stable sites to multi-sited, transborder contact zones and ambivalent third spaces
2) Substance and Materiality – from the monumental, homogeneous and unique of the artefact and listed monument to the transient, multiple, visual, digital, commemorated etc.
3) Time and Temporality – from objects of permanence and stability to the temporal, ephemeral, fugitive, processual
4) Identity – from the collective and cohesive to the ambivalent, contested, plural, and/or partial and fragmentary

The Host and the Network, Dates, and Deadlines

This international two-day conference in French and English will take place on 4 and 5 June 2018 at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA) and is embedded into the Laboratory of Excellence (LabEx) ‘Writing a New History of Europe—Ècrire une Histoire Nouvelle de l’Europe’ at Sorbonne University. One of its seven thematic axes—entitled ‘National Traditions, Circulation and Identities in European Art’—acts as the principle host of the event: with a special focus on geography, historiography and cultural heritage, it looks at art history in the Labex perspective of finding both elements of explanations and answers to the crisis Europe is currently going through. Is conducted by the Centre André Chastel (the Research Laboratory of Art History under the tutelage of the National Center for Scientific Research/CNRS, Sorbonne University and the Ministry of Culture) as the co-sponsor of the conference. Finally, the conference is situated within the new Observatoire des Patrimoines (OPUS) of the united Sorbonne Universities.

The conference is conceived by Michael Falser, Visiting Professor for Architectural History and Cultural Heritage Studies at Paris-Sorbonne (2018), in association with Dany Sandron, Professor of Art History at Sorbonne University/Centre Chastel and speaker of LabEx, axis 7.

Abstracts with name and affiliation of the speaker, title and 200 words abstract of the presentation are due with the deadline of 10 November. Candidates will be notified on 30 November 2017. The proposals for papers should be sent to patrimoine.europe2018@gmail.com.

Le Patrimoine Culturel de l’Europe @ 2018: Réexaminer un concept – redéfinir ses enjeux

Lecture | Iris Moon on the Late Shipwrecks of Jean Pillement

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on October 17, 2017

Jean Pillement, A Shipwreck, 1782, pastel on paper (Philadelphia Museum of Art).

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Iris Moon | Rococo Adrift: The Late Shipwrecks of Jean Pillement
University College London, 18 October 2017

Dr. Iris Moon (European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

The lecture is part of UCL’s visual culture research seminar Past Imperfect, which aims to explore recent concerns with time: the unfinished past, the future present, the over investment in the contemporary. This year’s theme is Destruction and Demolition.

Seminar Room 6, 21 Gordon Square, London, 6:00–8:00pm



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