Tag: Leslie Reid

2017-2018 Edith O’Donnell Graduate Fellows Dissertations

Dissertations in Progress

Jacob Crawford

Playing with Publishing: The Performance of Early Modern English Play Book Title Pages

My dissertation centers on early modern English printing of playbook title pages published from the advent of professional playing companies in the 1570s until the closure of the theatres during the interregnum of 1642. My investigation includes nearly 600 preserved playbook title pages and includes analyzing the rhetoric of attributions, acknowledgments, lengthy titles, and visual imprints (woodcuts) that remind readers of the traditions and agents involved in its creation. The title pages of early modern English playbooks warrant additional examination because the performativity of their elements are not fully represented by previous bibliographers, such as H. S. Bennett, and my dissertation aims to investigate as many of these title pages as possible because playbooks are inconsistently recognized for their unique characteristics.

An investigation of early modern playbooks is critical to understanding the unique contributions of playbooks to English publishing and literature, and that the rhetoric of title pages in early modern English playbooks warrants a closer examination to expose why the key elements of attribution, acknowledgements, titles, and images call attention to the performance of plays. Such an investigation is a counter to previous scholarship that simply categorizes title pages as a marketing tools. I do not see title pages as mere marketing tools for the sale of playbooks and promotion of printing houses, but as a visual instrument linking the performances in the playhouse to the imagined stage of the reader.

The visual elements on a playbook’s title page range from simple decorative patterns and printer’s marks to elaborate illustrations of scenes from the pages of the plays. The variety and purposes of these images range from traditional adornment of the page to sending a message to the reader that contains a visual memory of an actual performance. Images are powerful tools of storytelling and invoke a visual performance on the page, and help to remind the reader of the origin of the literary work they are about to participate.

Virginia Curry

“Causarum Cognitio”: The Architecture, Collections and Social Agency of American Athenaea

Three Case Studies: Redwood, Boston and Caltech

The concept of adult, non-ecclesiastical education evolved organically as a global phenomenon in Western Europe during the early 11th Century. Independent circles of like-minded individuals interested in reading and enrichment in the classics and the sciences gathered in small home groups which were taught by and for students. While some of these Athenaeum groups, such as the Lincei in Rome (of which Galileo was once a member) remain to the present day as private circles, others gradually evolved into major universities.

Many American Athenaea were founded in the northeast corridor of the United States, between 1731 and 1930.   As in Western Europe, a number of these eventually evolved into universities.

Since the first American Athenaea were founded in relatively populated centers in the Northeast, it was not at all unusual for athenaeum members to hold memberships in more than one circle.   Founding fathers Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Franklin, authors Poe, Melville, Emerson, and Hawthorne, painters Durand, Cole, and even visiting authors from London including, von Humboldt, Dickens and Conan Doyle, were often affiliated with multiple Athenaea in America as well as in Europe.

The Athenaeum caused a literal blending of kindred spirits engaged in the fields of art, literature and science.   In one famous instance, the meeting of artists Asher Durand and Thomas Cole with writer William Cullen Bryant was immortalized in a painting by Asher Durand, called “Kindred Spirits,” memorializing the friendship between the three.

One exceptional attraction of Athenaea was the opportunity to encounter individuals who pursued a variety of interests.   Historic figures of the Salem Massachusetts Athenaeum, for example, included such diverse personalities as Edward August Holyoke, a founder of the American Academy of Sciences; Nathaniel Bowditch, a mathematician who changed the course of American navigation; author Nathaniel Hawthorne; Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story; electric motor inventor Charles Grafton Page; and American Impressionist painter Frank W. Benson.

Fine art and antiquity collections in several Athenaea include portraits by Samuel Morse. A Boston native and inspired polymath, painter and sculptor, best known for the telegraph and the code that bears his name, Samuel Morse also painted a historical record portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette, John Adams and other luminaries from life. In New York, Morse founded the National Academy of Design in the building shared by the New York Society Library (both still extant) which also functioned as the first library of the American Congress. Several American Athenaeum museum collections were, in fact, so successful that they were eventually spun off into nearby independent museums such as the Fine Arts in Boston and the Berkshire in Pittsfield.

What can we learn from the successful Athenaea which can be applied to an engaging contemporary revival of this form and what space and responsibilities might it occupy?

My research will address this question though the comparison of three extant and successful Athenaea: The Redwood Athenaeum in Newport Rhode Island, founded in the seventeenth century, the Boston Athenaeum in Boston Massachusetts, founded in the eighteenth century and the Athenaeum at the California Institute of Technology, (Caltech) founded in the twentieth century. Caltech Athenaeum is the only Athenaeum founded on a university campus.

I shall argue that Athenaea groups functioned as incubators not only for creating an American identity through fine art and architecture, but also promoted rational discourse in science, scientific design and literature. Many Athenaea plans included scientific laboratories to permit members to conduct experiments.

I shall also argue that membership in Athenaea internationally as well as in America is not predicated on a single note of education, class, or career path. This embrace of diversity remains the key to productive and engaging rational discourse.

My dissertation will present a study focused on three thriving, contemporary institutions in order to assess their missions in terms of their legacy of philosophy and rational discourse. I shall argue that Athenaea which have broadened opportunities for discourse in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) in their development strategies may tend to impact on their success while others have not. I shall also argue that the presence of competing institutions and universities has not proven to be adverse to the success of Athenaea, as the latter serve as informal centers for the sharing of adult discourse and cultural and scientific enrichment and have long co-existed in proximity to the former.

My research will identify, compare and contrast features of three aforementioned extant American Athenaea: Redwood, Boston and the Athenaeum of California Institute of Technology. My research shall identify and discuss key features of these three which may be incorporated into plans for a twenty-first century Athenaeum, as well as examine the role of new technology in a re-envisioned institution.

 

 

 

Brianni Nelson

You’re Just Being Sensitive: Blurred Lines of Race Humor in New Media

In the 1990s, cultural critics proclaimed that the Internet would be a great equalizer; espousing the utopian possibilities of the Internet as a place where the differences and discrimination that plagued the “real” world would vanish. But, this virtual sphere of a post-racial utopia did not come to fruition. This text examines the circulation of racist humor within this Internet, one that continues offline patterns of racist expressions. Access to emerging media alters the ways in which people interact with one another by drastically reducing the complexity associated with engaging with other people and resources in physical space, thereby similarly transforming communication around racial issues. It is significant that these transformations extend beyond the presumed serious side of racial issues, but also into entertainment, particularly humor and joke telling. This text investigates what happens at the intersection of race talk, comedy entertainment, and digital media – specifically in the rising popularity of humorous image and video memes on social networking sites at the same time as the rising popularity of discussing race through a “colorblind” philosophy.

This text presents a cultural study of historical and current representations of race-related humor in print, visual, and digital media, focusing specifically on the affordances of networked communication and sharing-based platforms that facilitate the rapid spread of racist content under the “protection” of humor, as evidence of how videos, and their components, signify meanings and communicate messages.

While there is an extensive history about the significance of race, the failings of color-blindness, the role of humor in everyday life, and why minority representation in media matters, current literature falls short of understanding the implications of post-race dialogue in digital space and its implications on the type of comedy users desire, produce, and consume.

 

Aditi Samarth

The Survival of Hindu Cremation Myths and Rituals in 21st-Century Practice:

Three Contemporary Case Studies

The dissertation is a comparative, cross-disciplinary study of cremation myths and rituals in three distinctly different Hindu diaspora communities of Bali, Mauritius, and Dallas. The dissertation is patterned upon Arnold Van Gennep’s theories of the rites of passage rituals and ceremonies, Victor Turner’s theories on liminal persons who are “betwixt and between” two states of existence, and Mary Douglas’s view of death as “sacred-pollution” to be treated with reverence to harness pollution’s full positive impact, thus transforming the “undifferentiated chaos of death” into structural pattern for the living. Cremation rituals (persons, performance, time, objects, symbols, aesthetics, structure, and placement) act as a symbolic bridge to connect the dead from this world to the next, so that the survivors may protect themselves and harness the blessings of the deceased as an ancestor.

The dissertation (1) situates Hindu cremation rituals within the context of ritual studies, (2) identifies the structure and symbolism in each of the three iterations of the cremation ritual, (3) compares and contrasts the three cremation practices, and (4) explains the continuity and change in the three cremation rituals to identify the non-negotiable aspects of a Hindu cremation. The dissertation answers two questions: “What is the myth and ritual of the Hindu Agni Sanskar (fire rite or ritual, or cremation)?” and “What adaptations enable the myth and ritual to survive and continue outside of its original “mother” India culture, in the three distinctly different diasporic Hindu communities of Bali, Mauritius, and Dallas?” The dissertation adds to the existing discourse on a growing global Hindu identity, focusing on shared rituals of what remains of the “mother” India culture in diaspora settings?

 

 

 

Fatemeh Tashakori

Reverse Orientalism: The Westerner as the Other in Persian paintings of the Safavid dynasty

 After Edward Said, in numerous dominant oriental discourses, many scholars have argued that in orientalist paintings, the depiction of Eastern nude or semi-nude women in private spaces such as Turkish baths and harems have aimed to fetishize and eroticize Eastern women for the pleasure of European male voyeur. It seems the exact same process occurs in the Islamic world and I aim to pursue whether such “reverse Orientalism” can be identified in the Ottoman and Safavid era and beyond.

In this regard it seems what Said and other critics of Orientalism have put forward against the West and the Western art academia is not limited to such Western circles, but is a stance widespread even in the East. This can especially be seen in Eastern paintings of the West, namely the depiction of Western women and young men in the late Safavid period in Iran. These paintings illustrate the same tendencies Said and other orientalist critics say Westerners have about the East.

Tendencies such as the fetishism of the other culture especially the other culture’s women, the objectifying of the other peoples and in general portraying the otherness of a foreign culture through depiction can be clearly shown in many examples of Safavid paintings. Hence, what Said and others have stated against orientalist tendencies in art and literature, seems not solely a western phenomenon, but rather an occurrence that is widespread even among Easterners. In my dissertation I attempt to illustrate how Safavid paintings fetishize and create an “Other” when depicting Westerners, namely Western women and young men.

In the course of the late Safavid period, sixteenth century to the end of the seventeenth century, Westerners started to visit Iran, Persian artists discovered the potential of these exotically dressed foreigners as a motif for their miniature paintings. Based on an argument that shows the creation of “Otherness” is not solely a Western colonial creation, I theorize Otherness in the arts and the academia is a product of “exoticism” of the other cultures which should not be confined to the West. Studies on Persian paintings of the late Safavid period distinctly exhibit the stylistic development and invention of new painterly compositions and motifs. The considerable prevalence of themes such as nude women, single figures instead of group scenes, and European individuals in paintings are among those characteristics that set this period apart from Iran’s past artistic tradition. Depiction of young men costumed in European dress became a significant genre in the first half of the seventeenth century in Iran. Historically speaking, this period of time in Iran is when European foreigners began to visit Persia.

In sum, I aim to explore these ideas, which I have already found connections among them through my research and studying, in paintings of the Safavid dynasty and its continuous existence in the contemporary art of Iran.

In regard to this new era influenced by encountering a new Western culture I try to answer the following questions: What was it that made young men in European dress so popular in Safavid paintings? Given the fact that in the 16th and 17th centuries of Iran, Isfahan, the capital city of the Safavid dynasty, had become a cosmopolitan center, and Persians extended a warm welcome to foreigners particularly European visitors, can one assume that the depiction of these beautifully dressed young men clad in European grab made them pleasurable and erotically desirable as exotic objects to Persians’ aesthetic taste? Moreover, does the nature of being politically dominant or more powerful have an influence on who would potentially fetishize the other culture as an exotic object for the sake of desire?

 

Edleeca Payne Thompson

African Art on View: Mediating Transnational Histories in FOUR METROPOLITAN ART MUSEUMS

African art collections have always presented interesting challenges with display and interpretation. Museum collections of African art, and inherent association with European colonialism, further complicate the historical contexts necessary for understanding the art. In addition, displaying African art reflects a museum’s role in shaping African cultural identity within the broader contexts of world art and cultural history. My dissertation explores the politics of displaying African art and the ways museums mediate the formal presentation of the art between its contextual significance and the meaning for which it was originally produced. Within this environment are cultivated specific transnational historical constructs profoundly integral to understanding the evolution of the display and interpretation of African art in museums. While European interests in Africa were fueled by colonialism, trade, and aesthetic appropriations leading to Modernism, American interests revolved around economic issues of human slavery, civil rights, and racism. By comparing and contrasting institutions with disparate colonialist histories, this research seeks to uncover potential approaches to the interpretation of African art outside of the historical parameters informing current formalist-driven displays.

The museums and the attendant cities selected for this study represent distinct collection foci, exhibitionary practices, audience demographics, and historical cultural contexts with respect to African art: the Musée du quai Branly, Paris; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, Cologne; and the Dallas Museum of Art. The colonial and art historical engagement of the cities within which these selected museums reside also provides institutional structures through which the display of African art has been interpreted. Analysis of museum mapping, collections adjacency, object groupings, and attendant programming are all relevant points of departure for discussions on whose history these museums emphasize in their displays of African art. In addition, this study will evaluate methods museums have used to choreograph the visitor experience with African art through the use of object-centered and cross-cultural displays as well as those incorporating virtual technologies and social media.

I argue that displays of African art that are more inclusive of the transnational histories informing its production sharpen understanding beyond aestheticism and nullify the boundaries of institutional constructs of blackness and the African diaspora. This study seeks to offer a roadmap for museums to explore more innovative ways of displaying works far removed from their cultural contexts in order to impart deeper meaning for audiences largely distanced from them.

 

Completed Dissertation

Elizabeth Ranieri

THE BASILICA OF SAN DOMENICO MAGGIORE IN NAPLES: THE ART, TRADITION, AND POWER OF A SACRED SPACE 

This dissertation examines the art, literature, and history of the Basilica of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples, Italy, and the way in which this sacred space has been imbued with meaning by the Order of Preachers. The dissertation establishes a framework of sacred space theory and historical context of medieval and early modern Naples. It argues that places are sacrilized through a combination of person, place, and text—all three of which are evident at San Domenico Maggiore. It examines the pertinent first-person writings about the sacred space from the archives and guidebooks by both lay and Dominican authors.

The dissertation discusses the early history of the Dominicans and their medieval iconography, paying particularly close attention to Thomas Aquinas and his tenure in Naples, but also to the ways that the Dominicans and their donors used imagery derived from the history and legends surrounding Aquinas’ life—especially the years spent at San Domenico Maggiore—to decorate the space and to attract pilgrims. It explores the systems of early modern patronage of the sacred space by examining specific chapels and artworks. It examines the diffusion of the imagery of the Virgin of the Rosary in early modern Naples and the ways in which the Council of Trent influenced art-making in sacred spaces. It also provides a visual analysis of the Chapterhouse and Sacristy situated within the convent complex and demonstrate how the two spaces use Dominican and site-specific visual rhetoric to represent Dominican agency in these rooms.

Report from the EODIAH Research Center

Thank you to everyone who joined us last fall at our workshops and events.  Our speakers presented thought-provoking research and the resulting discourses were lively and insightful.  We are excited to offer a full slate of programs for the coming spring semester, and welcome guest speakers from other cultural institutions.  Our two-day February symposium, Artists’ Writings on Materials and Techniques, brings together art historians, curators, and conservators to explore artists’ writings about materials and techniques.  Robyn Hodgkins, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Trinity University in San Antonio, will visit us to discuss modern and contemporary oil paint formulations.  In particular, Hodgkins will look at two van Gogh paintings from the National Gallery of Art and then a closer look at a new category of oil paint, water mixable oils (WMOs).  DMA Director of Exhibition and Museum Design Jessica Harden will provide a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at how exhibition design impacts the artwork and visitor experience.

 Robyn Hodgkins, Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Trinity University


Robyn Hodgkins, Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Trinity University

In March, fellows have the unique opportunity to tour the eclectic art collection of local collector James A. Ledbetter which includes African, Asian and Modern European works. DFW area university faculty from SMU and UT Dallas will present their contributions to local scholarship including Dr. Michael Corris who will showcase his new publication, Leaving Skull City: The Afterlife of (Some) Conceptual Art.  A variety of topics will be presented by our UT Dallas fellows including Leslie Reid, who will give a gallery talk at the DMA on Modernist architecture of universal art museums focusing on architect Edward Larrabee Barnes’ design.

Emblem I. A Conversation. Conviction and persuasion are not called for in a dialogue. This discord may be fatal but it is not serious. The fingers point, the coffee is strong and hot, the skull session continues. (2015) (Monoprint, acrylic on paper, 22 x 27 inches).

Emblem I. A Conversation. Conviction and persuasion are not called for in a dialogue. This discord may be fatal but it is not serious. The fingers point, the coffee is strong and hot, the skull session continues. (2015) (Monoprint, acrylic on paper, 22 x 27 inches).

 

We have an exciting spring ahead and hope that all of you can join us!

 

Lauren LaRocca

Coordinator of Special Programs

The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History

 

 

Greetings from the Assistant Director

Thanks to all of you who joined us on September 2 at The Wilcox Space to celebrate the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic year, and the close of the two-part installation John Wilcox: Diptychs and Polyptychs. Stay tuned for news of the next installation, which will open in mid-Fall.

This Fall we are pleased to welcome four new O’Donnell Fellows to the Institute, where they will pursue research on topics from Cuba to Ethiopia. Leslie Reid is a UT Dallas doctoral candidate completing a dissertation entitled Abu Dhabi, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, and Shigaraki: A Comparative Analysis of the Modernist Architecture of Five Universal Art Museums. Evan (Poe) Johnson, also a doctoral student at UT Dallas, will join us as he completes his dissertation, The Fandom of Lynching and the Remediated Black Body. Joseph Hartman comes to us from Southern Methodist University and is in the final stages of his dissertation, Modern Dreams: Image, Space, and Politics in Machado’s Cuba, 1925-1933. And Jacopo Gnisci, who just completed his PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, will be in residence to work on the Dallas Museum of Art’s collection of Ethiopian crosses and to continue his research on fifteenth-century icon painting in Ethiopia.

We have a full slate of programs for the coming semester, which Lauren LaRocca highlights in her noteWith Lauren’s leadership we continue to develop our partnership with the DMA and with other area institutions including the Crow Collection of Asian Art, with whom we will present a symposium in January in conjunction with the exhibition Clay Between Two Seas: From the Abbasid Court to Puebla de los Angeles. We are also happy to collaborate with the DMA Conservation Studio and the Nasher Sculpture Center to present a symposium in February called Artists’ Writings on Materials and Techniques. We will welcome James Meyer from DIA and Michael Cole from Columbia as keynote speakers. As these programs demonstrate, one of our goals at the O’Donnell Institute is to foster collaborations between the academy and the museum, and to create a space for generative dialogue among academics, curators, conservators, and conservation scientists.

It’s just those kinds of dialogues that will unfold every Friday afternoon this Fall in my graduate seminar, The Material Lives of Artworks. Based at the DMA and at collections throughout Dallas and Fort Worth, the seminar will explore the history of artistic materials and techniques and the broader question of how materials and the act of making create meaning. Each seminar meeting will focus on a single medium (silver, ceramic, or paint, for example), and will combine close visual and physical analysis of artworks, conversations with scholars, curators, and conservators, and readings in both artists’ writings and recent art historical literature.

In July I traveled to Naples, where Sylvain Bellenger, Director of the Museo di Capodimonte and I continued our work on plans to launch a collaboration dedicated to incubating and communicating innovative research on the history of art in Naples, with particular focus on the cultural histories of port cities and the mobilities of artworks. While centered on Naples, our work will inform understanding of port cities and cultural centers throughout the world, from antiquity to the present. The Capodimonte/O’Donnell Institute collaboration will take the form of two programs: Workshops and Research Residencies. In an annual spring Workshop or Laboratorio, the O’Donnell Institute and the Capodimonte will convene an international group of scholars in Naples for two days of site- and collection-based presentations and roundtable discussions on a chosen theme. In our Research Residency program, advanced graduate students and early-career scholars will pursue research in residence at the Capodimonte on projects related to Naples and the cultural history of port cities. Our long-term vision is to expand the collaboration by inviting other institutions to sponsor Workshops and Residencies that will support the work of scholars from around the world in Naples. The Université Paris-Sorbonne, the Soprintendenza di Genova, and the Soprintendenza di Pompeii have already expressed interest in participating in the project. Our goal is to open the Capodimonte and the city of Naples to an international scholarly community, making the city a laboratory for creativity and collaboration. Sylvain, Rick and I all look forward to sharing news of the project with colleagues and friends of the Institute in the coming months.

As the slower pace of the Summer months set in, I had the chance to immerse myself in a new project on diptychs in fourteenth-century Naples. The project brings together for the first time a small but significant corpus of diptychs commissioned and collected at the Angevin court, with particular focus on how these mobile artworks fit into a whole network of artists, patrons, and objects in motion throughout the Mediterranean.

It’s with great anticipation that I look ahead to the coming year and to welcoming you to our many Fall programs and gatherings, which you will find on our website: utdallas.edu/arthistory/programs. Join us!

Dr. Sarah K. Kozlowski
Assistant Director
The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History

Meet the New EODIAH Fall 2016 Graduate Fellows

This Fall we welcome to the O’Donnell Institute four new fellows. Their project abstracts are below—please join us in welcoming them into the fold!
Jacopo Gnisci
Visiting Research Fellow, August 2017-February 2017
PhD, University of London/SOAS

Art and Faith: Panel Painting in Fifteenth-Century Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Cross Collection of the Dallas Museum of Art

This research project has a two-fold purpose. On the one hand, it aims to improve our understanding of the history of panel painting in fifteenth-century Ethiopia by reassessing the available evidence in light of a small corpus of newly-discovered or unpublished works from this period. More specifically, it will demonstrate that a small group of icons are the work of a hitherto unidentified artist whom I refer to as “the Master of the Scale Pattern.” On the other hand, it will examine the extensive collection of Ethiopian crosses of the Dallas Museum of Art with the aim of assigning a more precise date to each example.
 

Joseph Hartman
Visting Research Fellow, Fall 2016-Spring 2017
Doctoral Candidate, Southern Methodist University
Modern Dreams: Image, Space, and Politics in Machado’s Cuba, 1925-1933

This dissertation examines the public works program of Cuba’s infamous President-then-Dictator Gerardo Machado, 1925-1933. Machado’s unprecedented building campaign included a U.S.-style Capitol building; a 700-mile highway; French-designed parks in Havana; and a state-of-the-art penitentiary. These monumental works served as tropes in the regime’s reformist agenda. These spaces spoke to a broader nationalist dream of sovereignty in the face of U.S. hegemony. Eight years after his inauguration, however, Machado was deposed for corruption and the bloody repression of Cuba’s citizenry. These works were his last defense. “In regard to my presidency,” Machado bristled, “save your words and ink. The stone and marble speak for me and mine.”

But what do these works really have to say about republican Cuba under Machado? Machado’s public works, this dissertation argues, articulated a highly nuanced politics of space, vision, and cultural experience.  Machado’s prisons, palaces, and parks soon defined the urban and rural landscapes of Cuba.  Their likeness was reproduced, disseminated, and refracted in photographs in newspapers, magazines, and tourist brochures. Machado’s works emerged in dialogue with histories of Pan-Americanism, U.S. imperialism, and continental modernism. These spaces and their representations mobilized multiple geographies and temporalities that were quickly woven into the cultural politics of twentieth-century Cuba and the wider hemisphere. The regime’s U.S. and French-style monuments were a dream of a dream, a copy of a copy. But they were also a Cuban dream; a dream in which context ultimately quells any aesthetic debates surrounding the ambivalent status of model and copy, real and imagined.

 

Evan Johnson
Edith O’Donnell Graduate Fellow, Fall 2016-Spring 2017
Doctoral candidate, The University of Texas at Dallas
The Fandom of Lynching and the Remediated Black Body

From its earliest visual inceptions in American media through nineteenth century blackface minstrelsy performances and photography, images of the black body have been delineated into two separate categories that attempt to distinguish respectable behavior of black people from the deviant.  As such, black bodily performance is, at least in part, a mediated object. Cultural notions surrounding visual mediated objects are not solely the creation of artists for consumer consumption, but constructs devised within a recursive system of give and take between creators and spectators. The artistic and discursive content produced by spectators is what we now call fandom. This dissertation argues that cultural reception toward the black body inspired a fandom that had a significant impact on the history of media representation and the ongoing oppression of black people.

This dissertation examines images of the mediated black body from its earliest representations to its contemporary position as a fundamental unit of grammar within digital culture (Internet memes, Black Twitter, etc.). Further, I employ critical race theory, digital culture theory, Afro-Pessimism, and theories of fan scholarship, to argue that visual media representations of blackness have been used to discipline misbehaving black bodies in a fashion that mirrors another cultural practice that systematized the lack of black agency post-emancipation: lynching. Lynching culture has physical, textual, and imagistic manifestations; each of which, I argue, are fandoms in their own right. This dissertation reveals that much of the internal logic associated with participatory contemporary media consumption originates in lynching culture.

 

Leslie Reid
Edith O’Donnell Graduate Fellow, Fall 2016-Spring 2017
Doctoral candidate, The University of Texas at Dallas
Abu Dhabi, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, and Shigaraki: A Comparative Analysis of the Modernist Architecture of Five Universal Art Museums


Rooted in the late 18th and 19th century idea of the museum as a “library of past civilizations,” the universal or encyclopedic museum attempts to cover as much of the history of mankind through “art” as possible. The prototypes for this kind of museum are the Louvre, the British Museum, the Hermitage, and the Metropolitan Museum, which are enormous in scale and cover millennia of global cultural production.

This dissertation will examine this model of the inclusive art museum—essentially unbounded chronologically and geographically—and study its transformation in newer institutions less tied to national ideologies by analyzing five museums on three continents in buildings designed by six architects between 1971 and the present.  
Three of these institutions in buildings by Gio Ponti and Daniel Liebeskind (Denver), Edward Larrabee Barnes (Dallas), and Peter Zumthor (LA, the latter in construction) were selected because each was planned after the museum had already decided to be “universal” and had selected an architect to design a building that would embody that universality in “modern” terms. None of these American urban museums have “national” agendas, and their buildings are NOT rooted in the neo-classical or neo-baroque tradition of the universal museum– thus linking “universality” with “modernity.”

They will be contrasted with two museums in parts of the world in which the universal art museum is a “European” implant—Abu Dhabi and Shigaraki. One, a “branch” of the first great universal museum—the Louvre—is situated in a massive building by the French architect Jean Nouvel. The other, a private “universal” museum in Japan, is rooted in the archeological prototype of the British Museum and is housed in a purpose built building by the Chinese -American Architect, I. M. Pei.