Guest lecture: “Asians At Ellis Island: Seen and Unseen,” by Anna Pegler-Gordon, Associate Professor of Social Relations and Policy at Michigan State University. Professor Pegler-Gordon is author of In Sight of America: Photography and the Development of U.S. Immigration Policy. Her new research project, and the subject of her talk, is a study of Asians at Ellis Island. Most histories of Asian migration focus on Angel Island in San Francisco and the western United States. However, Asian immigrants also entered the United States through Ellis Island and, especially in the period from 1924 until the station closed in 1954, Asian New Yorkers, stowaways, smugglers and sailors were detained and deported through Ellis Island. This lecture is part of a larger book project which asks: What changes in our understanding of Asian exclusion when we view it through Ellis Island? And what changes in our understanding of Ellis Island when we see it through the prism of Asian migration? Exploring images of Asians at Ellis Island, as well as the absence of images, this presentation considered how the conceptual framework of the “seen” and “unseen” challenges historiographies of Asian exclusion and American immigration. As part of this guest lecture event, Professor Pegler-Gordon also met with graduate students to discuss several of her other projects as well as graduate student professionalization.
Co-sponsorship of guest lectures: Nicholas Mirzoeff, NYU (with the English Department); Simone Brown, UT Austin (with the Digital Studies Workshop); and David Alworth, Harvard (with the American Studies Consortium).
Image and chapter workshops: The VCW continued our community-building tradition of hosting “image workshops” in which group members are invited to share and discuss images on which they are currently working. The VCW also organized two faculty-student dissertation chapter workshops with Cass Adair (PhD English Language and Literature) and Joshua Morrison (PhD Screen Arts and Culture).
U-M roundtable on non-traditional scholarship: This year we took note of the growing interest across our humanities departments in exploring new modes of doing and communicating scholarly work outside of traditional formats. Graduate students are often invited to create final projects in non-traditional modalities, such as visual, digital, or hybrid forms. Nearing finals season, we held an informal workshop with faculty and graduate students to explore the pedagogical goals behind and the intellectual opportunities involved in such projects.
Symposium on vernacular photography: In March, artist-collector Nigel Maister, Artistic Director of the International Theatre Program and University of Rochester, led a seminar on snapshot collecting. The next day, Maister joined UM American Culture faculty Maria Cotera and Manan Desai, and English PhD candidate Cass Adair, in a panel discussion on vernacular photography in a wide variety of national, historical, and cultural contexts.
Co-sponsored guest lecture: Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Emory (with the Disability Studies Group).
Image and paper workshops: In October, in place of a general interest meeting, we held an informal “image workshop” with an open call for presenters. Participants from the departments of English, American Culture, Comparative Literature, Anthropology, and Romance Languages briefly presented images relevant to their work, and we conducted a productive discussion about ideas and methods for working with images in a variety of critical contexts. In April, we workshopped conference papers by Phil Witte (English), Michael Pascual (American Culture), and Kyle Frisina (American Culture).
Gallery walk: Discussion and gallery tour with Amanda Krugliak, curator at the Michigan’s Institute for the Humanities.
Collaboration with the Visual Culture Graduate Group at Wayne State University: Members from the Wayne State group came to Ann Arbor for a second gallery event and a networking meeting. In April, two UM-VCW members presented papers at Wayne State’s annual Visual Culture Symposium.
In this informal talk, Professor Bickers will discuss the origin, objectives and methods of the Historical Photographs of China project and the Visualising China, 1850-1950 website. He will highlight some specific collections, reflect on challenges that the project has faced, and discuss opportunities for use, re-use, and collaboration. Lunch will be served.
RSVP: Katie Lennard (firstname.lastname@example.org). Speaker Bio: Robert Bickers is Professor of History at the University of Bristol. He specializes in modern China and the history of colonialism, and in particular of the British empire and its relations with China and the history of Shanghai (1843-1950s). Work in this field includes the books Britain in China (1999), Empire Made Me: An Englishman adrift in Shanghai (2003), and The Scramble for China: Foreign Devils in the Qing Empire, 1832-1914 (2011). His interest in the world of British colonialism more broadly underpins the new volume in the Oxford History of the British Empire companion series that he has edited on British communities across the worlds of formal and informal empire. He is also interested in cemeteries and photographs and their post-colonial lives, clipper ships, lighthouses and meteorology in China.
“Modernism and Aesthetic Experience: a Workshop” with Prof. Justus Nieland (Michigan State) and Prof. Burke Hilsabeck (Oberlin)11 Mar
Friday, March 14
3241 Angell Hall
Frank Tashlin, still from Artists and Models (1955)/Charles and Ray Eames, Lounge Chair Wood (1945)
In this collaborative workshop, two scholars will visit to present and discuss new scholarship on modernism and visual culture. Justus Nieland will present material from a new book project about a midcentury modernism that seeks to design the senses for the new natures and media environments of Cold War modernity, with a particular focus on American designers Charles and Ray Eames. Burke Hilsabeck will present work-in-progress about modernism and self-reflexivity in the films of Frank Tashlin and Jerry Lewis.
The VCW is co-sponsoring this upcoming event, which will discuss race and sexuality in the field of vision.
Please join us!