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Cosponsors
  • Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • Department of Music
  • Department of Anthropology
  • Department of French and Romance Philology;
  • Department of History
  • Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
Notes
  • Free and open to the public
  • No registration necessary
  • Photo ID required for entry

Participants in "Description Across the Disciplines" will consider the relation between description and other modes of engaging with objects of analysis, such as interpretation, evaluation, argument, and critique.

While description has proven to be contentious in literary studies and critical theory, it constitutes a central and prized aspect of scholarly practice in fields such as anthropology, musicology, and art history and has remained so despite critiques of objectivity and the “view from nowhere.”

How have practices of description—from ethnography to ekphrasis—shifted in light of changing views of the role of the observer, scholarly ethics, and epistemology? What protocols are involved in describing people, texts, images, musical scores, and material artifacts?

Questions of description have been taken up recently within several disciplines; we hope to expand these conversations by offering a comparative perspective.

The conference brings together presenters from history, anthropology, psychology, art history, and literary studies alongside curators and artists working in different genres, such as observational documentary and graphic memoir, for whom description represents a crucial aspect of their practice.

Organizers:

Heather Love, R. Jean Brownlee Term Associate Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania
Sharon Marcus, Orlando Harriman Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University
Stephen Best, Associate Professor, Department of English, University of California, Berkeley

Program

time5:50pm - 6:00pm EDT

Welcome

time6:00pm - 7:30pm EDT

Guercino's Anni Mirabiles: 1619-20

Michael Fried

J.R. Herbert Boone Professor of Humanities and Art History

Johns Hopkins University

time8:45am - 9:15am EDT

Welcome and Introduction

time9:15am - 10:45am EDT

Panel I
Description and Extinction

Joanna Stalnaker

Associate Professor of French

Columbia University

Audio Description Described

Georgina Kleege

Novelist, Essayist, and Translator

The Cocktail Party

Ann Reynolds

Associate Professor, Art History

University of Texas at Austin

Moderator

Grant Wythoff

Fellow

Society of Fellows in the Humanities

time10:45am - 11:00am EDT

Break I

time11:00am - 12:15pm EDT

Panel II
The Point of Precision

Kathleen Stewart

Professor of Anthropology

University of Texas at Austin

Observable Behavior 1-10

Liza Johnson

Professor of Art

Williams College

Moderator

Brian Goldstone

Post-doctoral Fellow

Columbia University

time12:15pm - 1:15pm EDT

Break II

time1:15pm - 2:30pm EDT

Panel III
Giving (Away) Description in the Psychological Sciences

Jill Morawski

Professor of Psychology

Wesleyan University

The Description of Power and the Power of Description;Or, How to Listen to Music After New Historicism

Mary Ann Smart

Professor of Music Scholarship

University of California, Berkeley

Moderator

Maggie Cao

David F. Grey Assistant Professor, Art Department

University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

time2:30pm - 2:45pm EDT

Break III

time2:45pm - 4:00pm EDT

Panel IV
Interpret or Describe?”

Cannon Schmitt

Professor of English

University of Toronto

Depiction as Description

Alison Bechdel

Author, Cartoonist

Moderator

David Russell

Fellow and Tutor, Associate Professor of English

Corpus Christi College Oxford

time4:00pm - 4:15pm EDT

Break III

time4:15pm - 5:45pm EDT

Closing Talk
The Evolution of Clouds

Lorraine Daston

Director

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

Participants
  • Alison Bechdel Author, Cartoonist
  • Maggie Cao David F. Grey Assistant Professor, Art Department University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
  • Lorraine Daston Director Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
  • Michael Fried J.R. Herbert Boone Professor of Humanities and Art History Johns Hopkins University
  • Brian Goldstone Post-doctoral Fellow Columbia University
  • Liza Johnson Professor of Art Williams College
  • Georgina Kleege Novelist, Essayist, and Translator
  • Jill Morawski Professor of Psychology Wesleyan University
  • Ann Reynolds Associate Professor, Art History University of Texas at Austin
  • David Russell Fellow and Tutor, Associate Professor of English Corpus Christi College Oxford
  • Cannon Schmitt Professor of English University of Toronto
  • Mary Ann Smart Professor of Music Scholarship University of California, Berkeley
  • Joanna Stalnaker Associate Professor of French Columbia University
  • Kathleen Stewart Professor of Anthropology University of Texas at Austin
  • Grant Wythoff Fellow Society of Fellows in the Humanities