Conference Schedule

Friday, April 24th, 2015:

09:00am-7:00pm Silence! McGill Art History and Communication Studies Emerging Scholars Conference

Room 312, New Chancellor Day Hall, 3644 Peel Street

Artist Projects:

Richard Wheeler, UCLA, The Sounds of Silencers

Matthieu Saladin, University Paris 8 – Vincennes, Saint-Denis, Silent Track

Jane Birkin, Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton, Lecture-Performance: Writing the Image: Reading Allan Sekula

Conference Schedule

8:3­0-9:00 am Coffee and bagels

Welcome and opening remarks

9:00­-10:00 am Shhh! Silence in the Classroom, Whispers in the Hall: Silence and Pedagogy

Moderator: Dr. Becky Lentz, McGill University

Adam Lauder, University of Toronto, “Non-verbal Teaching as Conceptual Pedagogy and Object of Critique”

­Lindsey Albracht, The Graduate Center, CUNY, “Making Space(s) for Sound: Educational Soundscapes and the Active Learner”

­Kristen Millar, McGill University, “Barriers of Whiteness:   Discourses of Exclusion within Canadian Art History”

10:00-10:15 am Questions

10:15-10:25 am Coffee Break

10:25­-11:25 am A Quiet Space: Silence and the Built Environment

Moderator: Dr. Will Straw, McGill University

­Amanda Dalla Villa Adams, Virginia Commonwealth University,””In the Middle of Nowhere:” Robert Irwin’s Experiments with the Art and Technology Program at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), 1968-1970″

­S. Alana Wolf­ Johnson, University of Rochester, “Capture/Create: Sonic Potentialities in Zones of Open Narrative”

­Katrin Schamun, University of Arts Berlin/Harvard University, “How Does Architecture Sound?”

11:25-11:40 am Questions

11:40­ am-1:00 pm Lunch at Thompson House, 3650 McTavish

1:00­-2:00 pm The Sound of Silence: Silence as Resistance in Political Speech and Popular Culture

Moderator: Dr. Darin Barney, McGill University

­David Aitken, McGill University, “Silence as Reply”: Albert Camus on Algeria”

­Patrick Brodie, Columbia University, “Buster Keaton and Silent Resistance in Seven Chances”

­Josephine Hoegaerts, UPenn/KULeuven,”Graves et silencieux, leur voix se faisait cependant entendre: Charismatic silence and political influence in nineteenth ­century parliamentary politics”

2:00-2:15 pm Questions

2:15­-3:15 pm The Object of Silence: Listening to Things and Images

Moderator: Dr. Chriscinda Henry, McGill University

Jeroen Deraeve, Université de Montréal, “The Dissolution of Censorship in Iran: How Digital Media and Film Festivals Help Filmmakers To Break Through Government Imposed Silence”

­Ying Sze Pek, Princeton University, “Mute: Hito Steyerl’s “Documentary Abstraction” and the Limits of Speech”

­Karolina Zgraja, Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max Planck Institute for Art History, Rome, “The Silence of Venetian Renaissance Altarpieces: Considerations on Giovanni Bellini’s Unperceivable Music with Regard to its Devotional and Theoretical Implications”

3:15-3:30 pm Questions

3:30-3:45 pm Coffee Break

3:45-5:05 pm Silently Speaking: Performative Silence and Rhetoric

Moderator: Dr. Milena Tomic, McGill University

­Kyle Winkler, University of Pittsburgh, “The Silent Dissolution of Rhetoric in Sophokles’ Philoktetes”

­Avra Spector, The Graduate Center, CUNY, “Tracing Foucault’s use of Silence: Toward a Transgressive Silence”

­Alessandro Simari, Keble College, University of Oxford, “The Resumption Cue: Scripting Silence in Early Modern Drama”

­Sakina Jangbar, The University of Texas at Austin, “Can Silent Utterances be Performative?”

5:05-5:20 pm Questions

5:20-5:30 pm Coffee Break

5:30-­6:30 pm Keynote Lecture by Dr. Jonathan Katz, Associate Professor, State University of New York at Buffalo, “Hearing Silence: The Strident Noise of Negation”

6:30-6:45 pm Questions

7:00-10:00 pm Reception

Collateral Events at articule

Friday, April 24th, 2015:

5:30-07:00 pm Conversation with artist Dylan Miner, articule, 262 Fairmount W.

7:00-9:00 pm Vernissage for the exhibition Silence of Sovereignty, articule, 262 Fairmount W.



Opening Workshop with Dr. Jonathan Sterne – Monday, April 20th

Silence Workshop with Dr. Jonathan Sterne

Workshop: 3:00-5:00pm
Room 404 – Thompson House, 3650 McTavish
Followed by drinks from 5:00-7:00pm

During the first hour of the workshop (3:00-4:00pm), Professor Sterne will discuss two readings: a chapter from Wendy Brown’s Edgework: Critical Essays on Knowledge and Politics, and Michele Friedner and Stefan Helmreich’s “Sound Studies Meets Deaf Studies.” During the second hour of the workshop, we will focus on methods for discussing silence. Please bring your own research questions to the workshop.


Opening Lecture by Dr. Charmaine Nelson, McGill University

“I am the only woman!”: The Racial Dimensions of Patriarchy and the Silence Around White Women in James Hakewill’s A Picturesque Tour of the Island of Jamaica… (1825)
Thursday April 23, 5:00-6:00pm
Room W-220, Arts Building, 853 Sherbooke Street West 

In 1820 the English architect, author, and artist James Hakewill travelled to Jamaica, Britain’s richest colony, where he produced his book A Picturesque Tour of the Island of Jamaica… (1825). Mainly comprised of the plantation landscapes of the wealthy white slave owners with whom he sojourned, his images were a demonstration of the supposedly natural bounty of the colony. Created within the tumultuous years between the abolition of the slave trade (1807) and full abolition (1834), Hakewill’s twenty-one prints represented black men, women, and children as well as white males of various classes, and by implication ethnicities. The missing person of Hakewill’s prints is the white woman. In comparison to Joseph Kidd’s Illustrations of Jamaica… (1838-40) in which eleven of the fifty lithographs represented white females, in Hakewill’s Picturesque Tour… only two of the twenty-one aquatints depicted individual white women: Kingston and Port Royal, from Windsor Farm and Rose Hall, St. James. But Hakewill’s silence around white women was not necessarily the result of the actual racial demography of the island. Drawing from the experiences of Eliza Chadwick Roberts and Lady Maria Nugent, two white female visitors to Jamaica, this paper will argue that similar to white men (like Hakewill), white women also participated in the aestheticization of sugar cane plantations for imperialist ends. I will also endeavour to examine the specificity of white female experience, as it was differentiated within the colonial context of Jamaican slavery, from that of black and mixed race women. Furthermore, in failing to fully represent white European and Creole women in the varied dimensions of their complex lives in Jamaica, and by specifically refusing to represent them in the company of black slaves, Hakewill also delivered the false impression that white women lacked direct association with (or ownership of) enslaved Africans. This paper will explore the ideological work of white female self-representation and black female mis-representation within the structures of British politeness, which served to exclude the latter from the status of woman.

Hakewill James Kingston and Port Royal


CFP: Silence!


McGill Art History and Communication Studies Graduate Student Conference

CFP Deadline: March 1st, 2015.

Conference Date: April 24, 2015.

McGill University, Montréal

Silence itself—the things one declines to say, or is forbidden to name, the discretion that is required between different speakers—is less the absolute limit of discourse, the other side from which it is separated by a strict boundary, than an element that functions alongside the things said, with them and in relation to them within over-all strategies. […]There is not one but many silences, and they are an integral part of the strategies that underlie and permeate discourses. (Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality Vol. 1: An Introduction)

Silence plays the irreducible role of that which bears and haunts language, outside and against which alone language can emerge. (Jacques Derrida, Writing and Difference)

What is silence? How is it kept or broken? Silence is often used to describe who and what is repressed and subjugated: “being silenced” and “not having a voice.” This conference aims to explore the relations between silence, the unspeakable and the unheard, as well as the ways in which silence is represented, interpreted, and subverted.

John Cage visited Harvard University’s anechoic chamber in 1951, a year before composing his silent piece 4’33”. In this room that muted all environmental sounds, Cage heard the low and high sounds of his blood churning and his nervous system rushing: “There is no such thing as silence. Something is always happening that makes a sound.” Cage’s denial of the absence of sound and consideration of contingent sounds reveals the pervasive rhythm of life and the impossibility of silence.

The “linguistic turn” in contemporary philosophy exposed silences by attempting to elucidate the limits of language and intelligibility. If we consider silence to be a moment in language, rather than something which lies outside of it, how can we interpret and listen to silence? In the Preface to his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Ludwig Wittgenstein writes that “What can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence.” Although he denies that ideas that cannot be reduced to logical states of affairs can be meaningfully expressed through language, Wittgenstein recognizes that these silences can be expressed through means other than language. The limits of language outlined by Wittgenstein shed light on the exclusionary powers of speech and communication, and the ways in which silence and discourse are strategically employed in power relations.

As Derrida points out, silence is the source of all language. Rather than positing silence as an absolute negation of speech, Derrida suggests that it is a necessary condition for the possibility of meaning. Listening to the haunting echoes that lie on the horizon of sound, just beyond our hearing, entails perceiving the absences that allow sounds to be heard. Nevertheless, silencing often operates as a tool to establish power and exclude. Theorists and philosophers such as Derrida, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Homi K. Bhabha and Edward Said have sought to reveal the epistemic silences of our social and political structures. If silence has become a form of quiet consent in an age where power and language are one, how can we rethink silence as an expression of resistance or subversion? By creating a silent space where the voices of the “unspoken” can be heard, how can silence resist and subvert dominant discourses? How can we be attuned to the cacophony of silences and their multiple meanings?

We invite paper proposals from various disciplines and historical periods that address silence and various forms of silencing as object of study, metaphor, and methodology. We also invite paper proposals that seek to critique the notion of silence and silencing. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

-Silenced Subjectivities

-Feminist/Critical Race Theory Critiques of Language and Considerations of Silence

-Silence as Exclusion and/or Violence

-Silenced Histories

-Quiet Forms of Resistance

-Body Talk/Body Language

-Political Silence and Political Silencing

-Sounds and/of Silence

-The Aesthetics of Silence

-Silence and the Urban Soundscape

-Silence and Architecture, Visual Art, Cinema, Dance, Theatre and Performance.

-The Practice of Censorship/Anonymous Authorship

-Considerations of Deafness and Disability

-The Time of Silence

-Critiques of the Concept of Silence

The 2015 Art History and Communication Studies Graduate Student Conference will include the participation of the department’s faculty members. We invite graduate students, academics, artists, activists, and independent researchers to submit 20 minute conference paper proposals. Paper proposals (max 500 words) should be sent to by March 1st, 2015.


Conference Schedule
>> Friday, 18 April 2014 — MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels)
>> Presentation abstracts available here.

>> Facebook


9 – 930 am — Coffee and Refreshments

930 – 940 am — Welcome and Opening Remarks


940 – 11 am — Panel One: INNOVATION AND RESISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES (Chair: Molly Sauter)

Joshua A. Braun (Quinnipiac University), “’Bypassing the Web:’ Shell Users and Alternative Experiences of the Internet”

Daniel Browne (York and Ryerson Universities), “‘The Singularity is Near,’ Or Is It? Techno-Gnosticism and the Politics of Eschatology”

Lee Vinsel (Stevens Institute of Technology), “Dropping the I-Word: Business Historians and the History of a Concept”


1120 – 1240 pm — Panel Two: WHAT’S NEW? ART AND PRINT IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY (Chair: Frances Cullen)

Jessica Poon (University of British Columbia), “Provincial Imitation or Canadian Innovation? Confronting New York’s ‘Influence’ on Toronto Abstract Painting and the Painters Eleven in the 1950s”

Hugh Govan (University of Essex), “Anachronism and Environment: Towards a Concept of the Baroque in Post-Minimal Art”

Cheryl Thompson (McGill University), “From the Barbershop to the Front Page: Canada’s Black Beauty Innovators and the Community Newspapers that Made Them”


1240 – 130 pm — Lunch


130 – 250 pm — Panel Three: CONDITIONS OF INNOVATIVENESS (Chair: Samine Tabatabaei)

Marina Merlo (Université de Montréal), “CNN iReport and the Problems with the Rhetoric of Innovation for Citizen Journalism”

Etienne Turpin (University of Wollongong), “Open Source City Project (Jakarta Pilot Study): Innovations for Urban Resilience from a GeoSocial Intelligence Perspective”

Basak Durgun and Keil Eggers (George Mason University), “Colonizing Curriculum: The Aesthetic of Innovation in Higher Education”


310 – 430 pm — Panel Four: SPACES OF CHANGE? (Chair: Danijela Zutic)

Frederika Eilers (McGill University), “Modernism in Miniature: Modern Vernacular Architecture (1915 – 1937) and Kitchen Technologies (1928 – 1937) of Schoenhut Dollhouses”

Eva-Maria Troelenberg (Max Planck Institute), “Medievalism as Progress? The Case of 19th Century Cairo”

Noelle Belanger (University of Illinois), “American Moon: Picturing Imperialism in Outer Space in the Nineteenth Century”


500 – 630 — Keynote Address: Keith Moxey, “Imagining Time: The Temporality of Art’s History”

Closing Remarks

630 – 830 — Reception


Keynote Address — Keith Moxey: “Imagining Time: The Temporality of Art’s History”

Abstract: In the context of renewed attention to the phenomenological presence of the image and its ability to determine the nature of its reception, this talk focuses on its time. What is the time of the work of art? How does it make time? We will discuss the consequences for the history of art of an approach that acknowledges the anachrony of our relation to the past in the face of a continuing need for chronology.

Keith Moxey is Barbara Novak Professor of Art History at Barnard College (Columbia University). He is the author of books on the historiography and philosophy of art history, as well as on sixteenth century painting and prints in Northern Europe. His publications include: Visual Time: The Image in History (2013); The Practice of Persuasion: Paradox and Power in Art History (2001); The Practice of Theory: Poststructuralism, Cultural Politics, and Art History (1994); Peasants, Warriors, and Wives: Popular Imagery in the Reformation (1989). He is also the co-editor of several anthologies: Art History, Aesthetics, Visual Culture (2002); The Subjects of Art History: Historical Objects in Contemporary Perspective (1998); Visual Culture: Images and Interpretations (1994); and Visual Theory: Painting and Interpretation (1991).


We are incredibly pleased and excited to announce the presentation lineup for this year’s conference! Please click through for abstracts.

“American Moon: Picturing Imperialism in Outer Space in the Nineteenth Century”
Noelle Belanger (PhD Candidate, University of Illinois)

“’Bypassing the Web:’ Shell Users and Alternative Experiences of the Internet”
Joshua A. Braun (Assistant Professor of Interactive Media, Quinnipiac University)

“‘The Singularity is Near,’ Or Is It? Techno-Gnosticism and the Politics of Eschatology”
Daniel Browne (PhD Candidate, York and Ryerson Universities)

“Colonizing Curriculum: The Aesthetic of Innovation in Higher Education”
Basak Durgun (PhD Candidate, George Mason University) and Keil Eggers (BA Student, George Mason University)

“Modernism in Miniature: Modern Vernacular Architecture (1915 – 1937) and Kitchen Technologies (1928 – 1937) of Schoenhut Dollhouses”
Frederika Eilers (PhD Candidate, McGill University)

“Anachronism and Environment: Towards a Concept of the Baroque in Post- Minimal Art”
Hugh Govan (PhD Candidate, University of Essex)

“CNN iReport and the Problems with the Rhetoric of Innovation for Citizen Journalism”
Marina Merlo (PhD Candidate, Université de Montréal)

“Innovating Modernism in Provincial Toronto: The Painters Eleven and Abstraction in the 1950s”
Jessica Poon (PhD Candidate, University of British Columbia)

“From the Barbershop to the Front Page: Canada’s Black Beauty Innovators and the Community Newspapers that Made Them”
Cheryl Thompson (PhD Candidate, McGill University)

“Medievalism as Progress? The Case of 19th Century Cairo”
Eva-Maria Troelenberg (Research Group Leader, Max Planck Institute)

“Open Source City Project (Jakarta Pilot Study): Innovations for Urban Resilience from a GeoSocial Intelligence Perspective”
Etienne Turpin (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Wollongong)

“Dropping the I-Word: Business Historians and the History of a Concept”
Lee Vinsel (Assistant Professor, Stevens Institute of Technology)



5th Annual Emerging Scholars Conference
McGill University
18 April 2014

Keynote Speaker: Keith Moxey, Barbara Novak Professor of Art History and Department Chair at Barnard College (Columbia University)


The concept of innovation buttresses a paradigmatically modern Western belief in the possibility of infinite economic growth and technological progress. It is in fact a buzzword with remarkable contemporary currency, one that is instrumentalized as a constant search for new technologies, means of production, market adaptations, scientific discoveries and social changes. As a fundamental tenet in Western systems of thought, it is also – and has long been – inscribed within the West’s very view of itself as more successful and more ‘progressive’ than other societies. Note, for example, G.W.F. Hegel’s famous juxtaposition of Europe’s ever-changing art against the allegedly stagnant visual culture of India: the first modality accounted for the privileged position of the West as the locus of the emanation of universal Geist; while the latter stipulated an essentially ‘un-progressive’ timelessness in India.

The Western valuation and definition of innovation has thereby been mobilized as a justification for diverse colonial, post-colonial and now neoliberal enterprises. It operates as a smoke screen to preserve dominant power regimes both within the West and globally, concealing simultaneously the biased valuation of cultural production, and the unequal distribution of technological and scientific headway among diverse social strata. This is the case even as the current global financial crisis challenges the West’s ability to regenerate perpetually. In fact, the stakes involved in the Western impetus to innovate seem to intensify even as recent projections of economic acceleration in several non-Western countries rouse fears that the West is losing ground as innovation’s main stimulant.

The innovation paradigm is moreover implicit within the bulk of humanistic academic production. As a case in point, the Greenbergian approach to art history, which dominated much of the twentieth century, revolves indisputably around a teleology of formal innovation. Meanwhile, within a number of current academic discussions – for instance those concerning experimentation and invention in the history of science (Galison); global art history (Elkins); visual culture studies (Moxey); history of ideas (Godin); the philosophy of mondialisation (Nancy); media archaeology (Parikka); technological obsolescence (Kittler); and the aesthetics of failure (Halberstam) – innovation is tacitly treated with caution, if not skepticism.

Given this tangle of collusions and complexities, how are we to approach and define innovation in academic discourse? Is the paradigm purely a means of disarming social pressure for an all-inclusive equalized prosperity; or might it be recuperated to provide a stimulus for sustainable growth? Can we understand innovation in a broader global spectrum without falling into the trap of cultural essentialism; or does this concept perpetuate Western-centric views and mores? Can the concept of innovation be used for the analysis of historical periods; or does it figure too easily in teleological narratives?

With these questions in mind, the graduate students of McGill University’s Department of Art History and Communication Studies are opening an enquiry into the concept of innovation. We invite paper proposals addressing a broad range of academic disciplines and historical periods. Papers might address, but are by no means restricted to, the following questions:

  • Socio-economic implications of innovation. How do societies and specific agents adapt to new conditions, once their old ways of life have been destroyed?
  • The politics of innovation. Does innovation bring betterment or deprivation?
  • What are the criteria of innovation?
  • Challenging the Western canon of art built on the notions of style, progress, and originality
  • Technological progress
  • Patents
  • Is Western-centrism pervasive in the concept of innovation?
  • How does innovation affect personal identities (video games, Facebook, etc.)?
  • How is innovation different from change?
  • The contestations of innovation; the discursive counterpoints to innovation
  • Centre vs. periphery; milieus of innovation
  • Instances of anachronism masked as innovation in culture from the Middle Ages to the present day. Recurring regimes: the old in the new, the new in the old
  • Does materiality matter in innovation?
  • Temporality and innovation
  • Commodity culture and innovation

We welcome proposals for 20-minute presentations. Please send your submission in the form of a 300-word abstract and a brief CV to All candidates will be contacted by the first week of February.

For more information, please contact