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Seeing Matter(s): Materiality and Visuality

Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies, Heidelberg
July 29 to August 4, 2012

Organized by Christiane Brosius, Professor of Visual and Media Anthropology (Heidelberg) together with Barbara Mittler, Professor of Chinese Studies (Heidelberg) and Sumathi Ramaswamy, Professor of History (Duke), coordinators of Project B4 "Transcultural Visuality".

This year's Summer School "Seeing Matter(s): Materiality and Visuality" will explore the role of visual and material culture in the context of transcultural exchange processes between Asia and Europe. In highlighting the tensions between visual culture studies, art historical approaches and recent material culture studies, the Summer School will address questions such as: How can we move “beyond representation,” to take on images in all their tangibility and material presence? Is “thing theory” a site for us to analyze the confluence of materiality and visuality? How can we look at images and objects differently when we approach them from transdisciplinary and transcultural perspectives? In what ways do such perspectives challenge concepts and methods of our own disciplines?
Another aim of our Summer School is to address the transgressing mobility of images and objects as a key challenge for today’s Humanities, by tying it to current theoretical debates on this subject within various disciplines and testing it in concrete case studies derived from the participants’ research projects and regions.
The programme is designed to provide stimulating discussions and new inspiration for graduate and junior research work, to exchange ideas and test methods from individual research projects and to actively engage with an international group of peers and senior scholars who share an interest in transcultural visuality and materiality.

Keynotes will be presented by Kenneth George (Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Jan Bardsley (Japanese Humanities, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). Invited speakers include Kajri Jain (South Asian Visual Culture, University of Toronto Mississauga), Sumathi Ramaswamy (History, Duke University), Kavita Singh (Art History, Jawaharlal Nehru University), and Paola Zamperini (Asian Languages and Civilizations, Amherst College). Contributions from the University of Heidelberg come from Christiane Brosius (Visual and Media Anthropology), Monica Juneja (Global Art History), Barbara Mittler (Chinese Studies), and Melanie Trede (Japanese Art Histories).

With a conviction that transculturality may offer an inspiring research perspective in our endeavour to define more precisely the entangled complexities and dynamics of materiality and visuality in their global context, we will foster methodological and theoretical group discussions on this topic. The topics treated at the Summer School will be relevant to graduate students in all fields, but particularly to those with a background in cultural and visual studies, area studies, art history and anthropology as well social sciences. The summer school will highlight two larger frameworks:

  • Material Forms & Colours
  • Material Frames & Collections

The Summer School poster is available here...

What kind of programme is being prepared...

The summer school course programme spans over five days and combines insights in the research of renowned experts in the form of lectures with more interactive elements such as seminars and workshops. The scholars represent a wide range of backgrounds in line with the Cluster's own focus on interdisciplinary research.

read more about the programme...


Applications for the Summer School 2012 are closed!


Illustrated Report of the Summer School 2012

The Summer School "Seeing Matter(s): Materiality and Visuality" was held from July 29 to August 4, 2012, at the Karl Jaspers Centre in Heidelberg.
Please read the report by Marlène Harles here...