Apologies for the lack in updates!
Our activities this year were relatively modest in scale, yet highly generative for our participants’ individual work, and of new collaborations within and beyond UM.
Our largest event in the fall semester was in September. With the new Disability Studies Group, we co-sponsored a lecture by Rosemarie Garland-Thomson on disability in contemporary visual culture and media. This is a productive partnership because our two groups share a good number of regular participants. We have been talking about further VCW/DSG collaborations for the coming year.
In October, in place of a general interest meeting, we held an informal “image workshop” with an open call for presenters. Participants briefly presented images relevant to their work, and we had a productive open discussion about ideas and methods for working with images in a variety of critical contexts. Presenters and other attendees included graduate students in English, American Culture, Comparative Literature, Anthropology, and Romance Languages.
In November we had a one-off meeting to discuss short readings central to the field of visual culture, which offered useful support to students’ current and ongoing coursework in visual studies. In the same month we also developed a working contact with Amanda Krugliak, curator at the Institute for the Humanities, who helped us create a gallery walk and discussion event.
In the winter term, we developed contacts 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 with Amanda, followed by a networking meeting. In April, two UM-VCW members presented papers at Wayne State’s annual Visual Culture Symposium. We look forward to future collaborations with the WSU group.
In March we held our most well-attended pair of events, a “mini-symposium” on the subject of vernacular photography. A guest speaker, artist-collector Nigel Maister, led a seminar on snapshot collecting. The next day, Nigel 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. This standing-room only session produced a lot of excitement for visual culture work among graduate students and faculty in attendance.
Our last event of the term, in April, was a writing workshop of three in-progress conference papers, all scheduled for presentation at conferences later that month. All three authors have reported successful presentations and cited our workshop’s high utility to the progress of their work.
VCW activities will continue throughout the summer with an ongoing reading and discussion group of 8 participants. We are hopeful, too, that these meetings will generate additional ideas for next year’s programming.
Be sure to keep an eye out for our events during the upcoming academic year!