Past Events

Inter/Dependency: A Symposium on the Medical Humanities

Interdependency Banner

Thursday, April 19, 2018
Academic Building West Wing, Room 6051
15 Seminary Place, New Brunswick, NJ

“Inter/Dependency,” a one-day symposium, will explore questions of connection and relationality in the medical humanities. Sessions will focus particularly on notions of health, illness, and dis/ability; the production of knowledge about bodies, institutions, and environments; and formal mediations between and among literature, the visual arts, and the (social) sciences.


Read more: Inter/Dependency: A Symposium on the Medical Humanities

Reinventing Documentary Photography in the 1970s

Thursday, March 23, 2017 5:00pm - 8:00pm
Friday, March 24, 2017   9:30am - 5:30pm
Zimmerli Art Museum
Rutgers University

Organized by Sarah Miller and Drew Sawyer, in collaboration with the Zimmerli Museum and the Developing Room, this interdisciplinary symposium seeks to question standard narratives around the reemergence of documentary photography during that tumultuous decade. It brings together a range of international art historians and curators, who have rarely had to opportunity to exchange research and ideas on this topic. Supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Center for Cultural Analysis and the Office of the Dean of Humanities (Rutgers).In the United States, scholarship on documentary during the long 1970s has tended to focus on two poles: the curatorial practices of John Szarkowski at The Museum of Modern Art and those artists that he supported, and Allan Sekula’s and Martha Rosler’s strident critiques of modernism’s embrace of the genre. Taking Jorge Ribalta’s recent exhibition, Not Yet. On the Reinvention of Documentary and the Critique of Modernism, at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid as a launching point, the symposium will widen the conversation to explore the multiple ways that documentary was rethought and contested in the 1970s, in both critical discourse and artistic practice. This symposium will bring together art historians and curators from Europe, who have been rewriting these histories over the past several years, with emerging and established art historians in the United States, who are only just beginning to look into these diverse practices. The symposium aims to propel new scholarship on these artistic practices and the critical discourses they generated, and provide a broader context for American histories of documentary during the period.

For a full schedule of papers and more information, please visit

Formalism and Its Discontents, An Interdisciplinary Conference

Formalism Banner


Recent turns in the humanities, including affect theory, the digital humanities, and surface reading, have often been understood as moving past a “hermeneutics of suspicion.” If affect theory examines immediate, automatic, or emotional reactions to a text, it puts less stock in the analytic decoding of that text. Much of the digital humanities depends on that reading which computers can execute, and computers (the argument goes) compute rather than interpret. Surface reading seeks not to disclose hidden meaning, but to attend to evident meaning, examining that which is perceptible and apprehensible in the surface of the text. In music studies and art history, hermeneutical criticism and iconology have also given way to approaches that explore the various modes in which we visualize objects and experience performances. In rejecting the hermeneutic notion that meaning must be excavated, all of these methodologies assert that meaning in art and other cultural objects can manifest itself immediately. In other words, content lies on the outside, and form is no ideal abstraction but something easily within reach.

Read more: Formalism and Its Discontents, An Interdisciplinary Conference

Political Economies of Global Neoliberalism

Political Economics of Global Neoliberalism Website Banner

The symposium explores complicated and long histories of how neoliberal economic transformations shaped global and local political economies and political and economic ideas.  With scholarship from India to Africa and from the United States to Eastern Europe, the symposium examines how classical and neoclassical economic theory both molded and responded to global economic change, and how new regimes of labor, wages and racial hierarchy reshaped both local and global political economies.

Read more: Political Economies of Global Neoliberalism

The Culture of Experience: Pragmatism and Early-Twentieth-Century U.S. Literature

Culture of Experience Banner

This conference investigates the wide cultural and aesthetic reach of pragmatist thought in the early twentieth century. From the experimental art practices at Black Mountain College to social scientific techniques in the New Negro Movement, from the formation of the “history of ideas” and literary studies as academic disciplines to modernist poetic practice and the social thought of W. E. B. Du Bois, pragmatism played a profound yet understudied role in the styles and institutions of U.S. culture. Using the rubric of the “culture of experience,” we hope to expand the understanding of what pragmatism was—as a philosophy, as a set of cultural tendencies, as a network of institutions and people—and how it helped to define the production and reception of modern U.S. literature.


Read more: The Culture of Experience: Pragmatism and Early-Twentieth-Century U.S. Literature

The Economization of Everyday Life

Neloiberalism Banner

Neoliberal imperatives have had profound effects on everyday life all over the globe. Are these recent transformations something genuinely new or callbacks to earlier moments in the history of capitalist development? This symposium addresses the diverse ways that neoliberalism has reshaped everyday experiences through phenomena as diverse as labor, migration, and housing, in locales from Asia to North America.


Read more: The Economization of Everyday Life