March 26 - 27 at Haverford College
2010 Mellon Symposium organized by Rachel Oberter
Organized by Haverford's 2008-10 Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow Rachel Oberter, this symposium brings together scholars from the fields of art history, media studies, cultural studies, and literature to consider the terms "medium" and "mediation" in nineteenth- and twentieth-century visual culture. How do particular materials such as paint and glass function as media? What is particularly modern about heightened attention to mediation – that is, the laying bare of the mechanisms of representation? How does a focus on "medium" or "mediation" remake interpretive models in the study of visual culture?
One of the symposium's recurring themes will be the role of the medium in nineteenth-century Spiritualism, a heterodox religious movement based on the perceived ability of individuals to communicate with the dead. How can we understand both the actual impact and metaphoric implications of the medium in art, literature, photography, and film? Did contemporaries perceive the medium as a transparent conduit between heaven and earth? In other words, how did the medium mediate?