1998 Graduate Student Conference
Saturday October 10, 1998
Fourth Floor, Rackham Building
915 East Washington St.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1070
The History of Art Graduate Student Association of The University of Michigan invites the public to attend a day long conference on visual culture titled Souvenir. While "souvenir" is most commonly defined as "a memento of an occasion, place, etc..." in broader terms it means "to remember" or "to occur to the mind." Various paths of inquiry lead to the concept of souvenir. How is the past recycled, reworked, or revisioned through objects? How does art contribute to the meanings of tourism, travel, cultural theft, migration or exile? Papers selected for this conference address topics such as the memorialization of trauma, the reconfiguration of the past, and the representation of tourism and pilgrimage. Following each panel there will be ample time for discussion. We hope that you will join us on Saturday, October 10th.
Schedule * Sponsors * Committee Members * Contact Information * Abstracts
(click on presenter's name to view abstract)
10:00 Welcoming Remarks: Jasmine Alinder
10:15 Panel One: Reconfiguring the Past
Moderator: Tanya Senkevitch
Lara Blanchard (UofM, HofA) "A Scholar-Painter's Appropriation of the Past: Rhetoric in the Southern Song Handscroll Pounding Cloth."
Josephine Shaya (UofM, IPCAA) "A Monument to Antiquity: The Late Hellenistic Lindian Temple Stele"
Elizabeth Otto (UofM, HofA) "Communities of Classicism, Memories of Bilitis: Marie Laurencin and the Imaging of a Lesbian Past"
12:00 Lunch (served in the Assembly Hall, across from the Amphitheater)
1:15 Travel: Pilgrimage and Tourism
Moderator: Kyle Johnson
Elizabeth Marlowe (Columbia, HofA) "Nationalist Illuminations of the Classical Past: Son et Lumière on the Athenian Acropolis"
Kathryn Rudy (Columbia, HofA) "A Pilgrim's Souvenir: Stockholm Royal Library A233"
Joshua A. Shannon (UofC, Berkeley, HofA) "Jasper Johns, Memory and Meaning"
3:00 Brief Break
3:15 The Memory of Body/Mind Trauma
Moderators: Anne Duroe, Jane Carpenter
Sandra Seekins (UofM, HofA) "Prostheses as Souvenirs of War: Otto Dix's Representations of Veterans in Weimar Germany"
Alexandre Dauge-Roth (UofM, Dept. of Romance Languages and Literatures) "Haunting Souvenirs in AIDS Representations and AIDS Representations as Haunting Souvenirs: Hervé Guibert's AIDS Novels and Film"
Melissa Riley (UofC, Berkeley, Dept. of Rhetoric and Film) "The Future Anterior of Death and Mourning: Chris Marker's La Jetée"
The Souvenir Planning Committee
Jasmine Alinder,firstname.lastname@example.org, Chair
Jane Carpenter,email@example.com, Moderator
Anne Duroe,firstname.lastname@example.org, Moderator
Kyle Johnson,email@example.com, Moderator
Tanya Senkevitch,firstname.lastname@example.org, Moderator
Elizabeth Otto,email@example.com, Assistant Coordinator
Laura Bassett-Ho,firstname.lastname@example.org, Selection Committee
Jennifer McCormick,email@example.com, Selection Committee
Alexandra Schwartz,firstname.lastname@example.org, Selection Committee
Chris De Fay,email@example.com, Publicity & Web Design
Carmen Higginbotham,firstname.lastname@example.org, Event Coordinator
Lisa Langlois,email@example.com, Event Coordinator
Yao-fen You,firstname.lastname@example.org, Event Coordinator
Funds have been generously contributed by the following University of Michigan Departments and Offices: The Department of the History of Art, The College of Literature, Sciences and Arts, The Institute for the Humanities, The Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Women's Studies, The Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archeology, The Office of the Provost, The History Department, and the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies.
Graduate Student Conference
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Photograph, Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, by Jim Alinder.
Department of the History of Art, University of Michigan
"A Scholar-Painter's Appropriation of the Past: Rhetoric in the Southern Song Handscroll Pounding Cloth"
Scholar-painter Mou Yi's (ca. 1178-ca. 1243) rarely studied handscroll, Pounding Cloth, completed in 1240, provides an example of the multiple ways that the Chinese literati reworked historical texts. The painting is a visual reinterpretation of a fifth-century poem, "Pounding Cloth" by Xie Huilian (397-433). A literati audience would remember both the poem and its theme. The poem appears in the sixth-century anthology New Songs from a Jade Terrace and belongs to an old tradition of romantic poetry on the theme of pounding cloth. This activity came to stand as a topos for longing, as it generally alludes to the unhappiness of women making clothes for their husbands away at battle.
Mou Yi's own colophon to the painting details the choices he made in adapting the poem for visual representation. In this, his second work on the theme, he manipulates the viewer's expectations through rhetorical use of established pictorial styles. Since the poem describes elite women, it seems natural that Mou Yi would make use of the classic style associated with the depiction of such women, that of Zhou Fang (active ca. 730-800). However, his words tell us that his choice of this historically specific style was deliberate, suggesting that all of his artistic choices in regard to this painting were entirely conscious. And in point of fact, Mou Yi does not simply copy Zhou Fang's women, but renders them in Li Gonglin's (ca. 1041-1106) "plain outline" technique, which the educated viewer would immediately recognize. The viewer would be aware that Mou Yi does not stop with allusions to two celebrated painters, but adds two landscape screens painted in the styles of Mi Fu (1052-1107) and Zhao Danian (active ca. 1080-ca. 1100), unusual for actual use in the women's quarters. Thus the viewer could not fail to notice that Mou Yi appropriates the styles of three members of painter-poet Su Shi's (1037-1101) circle of friends, the very group responsible for the birth of literati criticism with its insistence that painting is, in some sense, equivalent to poetry. I argue that Mou Yi's references to their work are intended to prompt the viewer to interpret the visual images, particularly since he makes these interpolations very conspicuous. He draws attention to both the women's activities, which, as mentioned above, implicitly indicate their husbands' absence, and to their sorrow through the landscape screens, which depict rivers, mist and willow trees, well-established poetic tropes for parting and separation. Mou Yi's rhetorical use of painting styles from the past is integral to his attempt to match the poet's ability to verbally express his female subjects' feelings, and thus to the successful visual reworking of a well-known old poem.
Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, The University of Michigan
"Haunting Souvenirs in AIDS Representations and AIDS Representations as Haunting Souvenirs: Hervé Guibert's AIDS Novels and Film"
Through the analysis of French writer Hervé Guibert's autobiographical novels and film, my paper examines the problematics of "souvenir" in the AIDS context. I argue that the notion of "souvenir" must be examined both as an act and result of personal and collective remembrance. First, for people living with AIDS, personal memories of their identity and life before contracting the AIDS virus constitute haunting souvenirs that ground and highlight the radical and traumatic discontinuities imposed by AIDS. Second, AIDS novels and films must be understood as sites of enunciation that allow people living with AIDS to (re)claim a social presence despite the proximity of their eventual absence and their social containment by medical, political, religious and homophobic discourses. Autobiographical representations and performances of one's own dying from AIDS constitute therefore a haunting souvenir for the larger society since they challenge dominant representations of AIDS and affirm the alterity and existence of people living with AIDS within society.
If the personal articulation between former and present self-representations constitutes a traumatic and enunciative challenge for Guibert, it is because AIDS introduces a radical discontinuity within him. Guibert experiences a form of "narci-schism" (Edelman) since he is no longer able to establish a form of continuity between his own memories and who he is now. His souvenirs prior to AIDS become, then, haunting ones, both the cause and reminder of the traumatic aspects and effects of his split identity. This split within himself, nevertheless, can not be reduced to its psychological dimension alone, but must also be examined as an effect of official and hegemonic representations of AIDS. These representations not only impose "normal" and "healthy" conceptions of body and identity,but generate and naturalize social "schisms" within the social body, excluding AIDS bodies and persons as legitimate sites of enunciation and representation of collective and personal memory and identity. People living with AIDS must therefore not only face personal schisms but social ones that exclude them from the social body, where discourses of immunity and exclusion reinforce each other. The title of Guibert's autobiographical film displaying the everyday life of a person living with AIDS, La pudeur ou l'impudeur, as well as the film as whole, provocatively addresses and exhibits the personal and the political dimensions involved in the souvenir of one's own bodily identity. For Guibert, writing and filming himself constitute a form of oppositional discourse through which he negotiates both his own personal souvenirs and the souvenir of his social identity as a person living with AIDS that he will leave behind him. By putting his own body and identity dramatically on display as well as the way he remembers himself and wants to be remembered, Guibert stages an act of self affirmation, a crucial performative gesture through which he reclaims the right of self enunciation and memory from the numerous discourses that alienate him.
Department of the History of Art, Columbia University
"Nationalist Illuminations of the Classical Past: Son et Lumiére on theAthenian Acropolis"
The Parthenon is many things: crumbling pile of battered marble, treasure trove of plunderable art works, testimony of ancient Athenian imperialism, symbol of modern Greek nationalism, monument to the glory of democracy and Western civilization. There are literally many Parthenons; there is one on a hill in Edinburgh, with a plaque commemorating Scottish heroism at Waterloo; there is one representing freedom and democracy-the aspirations of the American Revolution-in Nashville's Centennial Park; and there is one printed across the top of the page on all UNESCO paperwork as a neutral symbol of universal learning and culture. Never mind that Pericles was more interested in expressing Athenian triumphalism and religious piety than the brotherhood of nations or life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Parthenon is simultaneously the emptiest and the most-loaded of signs, representing only and nothing less than the amorphous concept of Western Civilization.
Yet occasionally, these divergent meanings of the classical past come into open conflict with one another-especially when financial capital and nationalist interests are at stake. The best known example of such conflict is the argument over the ownership of the so-called Elgin marbles. Indeed, the cacophony of competing voices can be heard even in seemingly brotherly celebrations of our cross-cultural, classical heritage, such as the events surrounding the premier of the Sound and Light Show on the Acropolis on May 29, 1959.
A high-tech extravaganza requiring 35 kilometers of cable, 1,500 spotlights, 48 loudspeakers and a capital investment of 120 million francs, the Show was financed by a private French company in conjunction with a French cultural foundation called the "Association pour la mise en valuer des sites." French newspapers hailed the event as a "manifestation of Franco-Hellenic cooperation." French Minister of Cultural Affairs André Malraux gave the opening night address to an audience packed with high-ranking Greek and French officials, "thousands of listeners from all points of the globe," and 2,500 members of the French navy. The theme of international brotherhood resounded throughout the evening; Malraux declared that "the soul recognizes only fraternal nations," and lauded the Acropolis as "the venerable symbol of the West" and ancient Greece as a model of the "culture and Courage" that could bring about universal salvation "at the dawn of the atomic era."
The flowery Cold War rhetoric and official picture of harmonious international cooperation, however, was challenged by competing nationalist interests from the outset. The Greek newspapers fulminated against the illicit, behind-the-scenes negotiations by the government that had led to the "selling of the Acropolis" to a private foreign company in a financial deal grossly disadvantageous to Greece. Meanwhile, French bosoms back home swelled with pride at the flexing of French military muscle abroad, exalted in screaming front-page headlines like "GRANDE PARADE DE LA MARINE FRANCAISE DEVANT L'ACROPOLE." At the other end of the political spectrum, a French communist newspaper used the event to draw attention to the plight of Manolis Glezos, who, 18 years ago to the day, had jump-started the Greek resistance movement by tearing the Nazi flag down from the Parthenon in the middle of the night; but who was now imprisoned for his subsequent Communist affiliations. This paper further muddied the happy official picture of Western values and allegiances by drawing attention to Malraux's own Communist past and accusing him of "amnesia."
Drawing on French and Greek newspaper articles from May and June, 1959, this paper will look at the Sound and Light Show-which, to my knowledge, has never been critically examined before-in light of growing literature on tourism, classics, and nationalism. I will attempt to read the debates surrounding the opening ceremonies both against their specific historical context and in terms of Europe's long and complex history of travel to-and appropriation of-the glories of Greece. I will also consider the Show's contents in greater detail, analyzing which story of the Acropolis it chooses to tell and toward what ends-a story that continues to be told every evening to this very day in Athens before a captive audience of international tourists.
Department of the History of Art, University of Michigan
"Communities of Classicism, Memories of Bilitis: Marie Laurencin and the Imaging of a Lesbian Past"
Until recently, much of the scholarship on early twentieth-century French artist Marie Laurencin has focused either on her relationship with poet Guillaume Apollinaire or on her role as the only female painter in the Cubist circle. Both approaches have generally failed to confront Laurencin's images directly or to contextualize her oeuvre in circles other than Cubist. In my Master's thesis I explored Laurencin's work in terms of gendered self-fashioning and the construction of an essentialized femininity and addressed Primitivist and Orientalist themes in her art, foci which generated new possibilities for scholarship of the work of Laurencin.
Taking Laurencin's 1904 Chanson de Bilitis aquatint as a starting point, this conference paper explores the deployment of a classical past to create a visual language of lesbian desire in the present. I link Laurencin to the group of artists and writers in the salon circle of Natalie Barney and focus on a particular case of "memory" which served as a precedent of a utopic lesbian past for many of Barney's circle: the cycle of Sapphic poems entitled The Chansons de Bilitis. Published as a recent archeological find, the Chansons were in fact composed in the late nineteenth century by French author Pierre Louys. Though she never existed, Louys's Bilitis became a key "historical" example of art fueled by lesbian desire for many in the twentieth century.
Classical mythology was a key source of inspiration in Laurencin's early work of 1904-1910; several of her images, such as Artemis and Diane a la chasse, evoke a classical era in which female homosexuality and homosociality are cast as a productive part of literary and artistic culture. In this paper I examine linked issues of fantasy, memory, classicism and lesbian desire Laurencin's early engravings and the deployment of Louys's text.
Department of Rhetoric and Film, University of California, Berkeley
"The Future Anterior of Death and Mourning: Chris Marker's La Jetée"
In this paper I argue that while many visual theorists use temporality to privilege photography as a site of death and mourning, La Jetée, a film comprised almost entirely of photographic stills, complicates any such construction. Although Roland Barthes claims it is the photograph that enacts a temporal disjunction, the "future anterior," whereby past and future mediate each other dialectically within a context of death and mourning, I contend that film as well enables such a movement. La Jetée exemplifies this mediated temporality and does so in ways that questions what it is to remember an event: how is an event later psychically reworked and how does fantasy condition one's perception? Notably La Jetée incorporates these concerns in a narrative that employs representations of time travel, amnesia, restoration and ruins. Accordingly, I examine this film mainly through a psychoanalytic lens vis-a-vis Freud's Nachtraglichkeit, trauma and fetish theories as well as through more historical frameworks of Walter Benjamin, Siegfried Kracauer and Michel Foucault.
I will closely examine two key scenes in the film, one at the beginning and one at the end, in order to demonstrate the importance of the photographic stills; they are employed to underscore the haunting of memory and amnesia, and the stills themselves suggest an imminent death which must already have happened. Textual analysis of the stills further demonstrates deaths' "always already" position in the film and how viewers must use and at times mistrust their own memories of what may have happened in order to construct the narrative of La Jetée.
La Jetée offers a filmic and photographic rendition of catastrophe, allowing its viewers to apprehend and resolve death while reading it through a context of historical trauma. By using the future to interrogate the past, La Jetée shows us versions of history, versions inseparable from subjectivity, that of the characters it represents as well as our own.
History of Art Department, Columbia University
"A Pilgrim's Souvenir: Stockholm Royal Library A233"
A Flemish book of hours dating from around 1510 in the Stockholm Royal Library (A233) contains clear internal evidence that it served as vademecum for its patron, who is a Jerusalem pilgrim frequently depicted among its folios. The miniaturist has carefully portrayed the patron with the attributes of the Jerusalem pilgrim, as if to assure his sitter's identity as a pilgrim in perpetuity. The book also includes prayers to be read in Jerusalem accompanied by site-specific images. This combination of texts and images binds the codex to the devotion of pilgrimage in a way that supersedes speculation. The codex contains texts and images from several stages of augmentation under the direction of at least two different owners. The first was a man who undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; and a subsequent owner was a woman, possibly the pilgrim's wife, who left her own marks of identity in the codex by having herself depicted in devotion to Mary Magdalen. In this paper, I will discuss the highly unusual text and image cycle and consider the pilgrim's construction of identity both as a traveler through physical space and a witness to, if not a participant in, events from sacred history. The paper will also consider the subsequent owner's devotion to the predominantly female cult dedicated to the Magdalen.
This paper will explore the codex using the tools of codicology, or the archeology of the book. It will consider signs of wear, the physical properties of the book, and the layering of two owners' identities to speculate on the book's devotional function. The paper will take into account the role of pilgrims' souvenirs, including the pilgrim's vademecum, as a locus for memory. Finally, it will consider the pilgrim's portrait as a proxy that could make pilgrimages and gain on behalf of the individual the indulgences otherwise guaranteed only by corporeal travel.
The unpublished manuscript is important for several reasons. To my knowledge, pilgrim's prayers were copied into no other books of hours. Their appearance in Stockholm royal Library A233 allows us to treat pilgrimage-both real and imagined-in the context of private devotion. Secondly, the highly unusual pictorial cycle shows the pilgrim at sites around Jerusalem as if he were present at various scenes from sacred history. No comparable images have surfaced to date. Finally, the unprecedented pictorial emphasis given to the Penitential Psalms-including a depiction of the pilgrim at the Last Judgment being conducted to Heaven-suggests that he visualized his own journey as a form of penitence, as a guarantee of sorts that a visit to the earthly Jerusalem would pave the way for a journey to the heavenly one.
Department of the History of Art, University of Michigan
"Prostheses as Souvenirs of War: Otto Dix's Representations of Veterans in Weimar Germany"
This paper takes as its starting point Otto Dix's representations of World War I veterans' bodies in 1920s Weimar Germany. It seeks to trace the intersection of traumatic war experience, discourses of militarized masculine identity, and the collage of human flesh and metal facilitated by medical advancements in the development of prosthetics. To my knowledge, these images have not previously been discussed in relation to both medical discourse which, after all, enacts amputation and outfitting via prostheses, and theories of corporeal trauma and fragmentation.
Prostheses were visible souvenirs of war, and broken bodies became the locus of a memory of defeat and trauma. Hence these bodies had a problematic status, and were frequently socially de-valued. On a more practical level, pension debates were raging, and the vast number of veterans requiring support became a huge economic problem. Yet veterans with prostheses were often shown functioning effectively in factories as "productive" members of society.
My inquiry raises a constellation of questions. What did it mean for veterans to be half-flesh and half-machine, to beg on streets where they were frequently stepped over, ignored, or erased from the visual field? What did it mean for Dix to address their situation within his complex artistic commentaries on the metropolis and artistic identity, and what visual strategies did he adopt for this purpose? Did the artist take on the role of doctor-butcher or surgeon-healer? How did his view of the surgically augmented body articulate and/or critique the ability of science to create new hybrids - did medical technology create more monstrous beings or did it create positively enhanced automatons from war's by-product of human detritus?
Otto Dix seems to have had an ambiguous attitude toward war. He had an intimate knowledge of the horrors of the trenches, yet often spoke of his identity as having been shaped by the war in more positive ways. Although injured, he exhibited none of the severe facial scars of many other veterans, and he returned from battle with limbs intact. Are his images of veterans with prosthetic limbs and reconstructed faces a parody or an ironic commentary; are they an expression of his own survivor's guilt or an attempt to engage the empathy of their audience? How does he figure his own military and artistic masculinity in relation to these bodies?
The increased visibility of the mutilated and mechanically enhanced bodies of veterans related metaphorically to the city as a marked and wounded site - injured by war, capitalism, and technology. Given the fascination technology held for so many modern German artists, how does Dix construct the post-war city in relation to those veterans' bodies, bodies so grotesquely altered, yet miraculously still breathing and moving through the spaces of the metropolis?
Joshua A. Shannon
Department of the History of Art, University of California, Berkeley
"Jasper Johns, Memory and Meaning"
One summer day in Tokyo, Jasper Johns affixed a photo-portrait dinner plate to his new work Souvenir. It was 1964, and dishes like Johns's were among the most widely popular momentos of Japan, each with an image of someone to be remembered baked into its glaze. No doubt the sweaty heat of the afternoon or his own difficulty with the Japanese language were on Johns's mind as he worked on the painting, but the polemics of the artist's acts had everything to do with his fascinated discovery, three years before, of the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein.
In the anecdotal and laconic style typical of his later writings, Wittgenstein builds a case in Philosophical Investigations for a new understanding of how meaning is related to signs. For Wittgenstein, to perceive material fact is to interpret it; even the most basic experiences with the world are mediated by countless factors of interpretive context which are contained in the memory. Every shape, face, word, or picture, when noticed, is seen "according to an interpretation." Wittgenstein thus throws material objectivity into question and emphasizes the immateriality of meaning.
Jasper Johns's fascination with Wittgenstein lies in exploring just this claim about material objectivity's difficult and dubious role in the making of meaning. Souvenir is a painting in which Johns rehearses the complications of a material notion of memory. Here a plate claims to embody his trip to Japan, a flashlight pretends to materialize his youth. And the stenciled color names and thick brush strokes seem to retell Johns's history as a painter. Souvenir, however, calls attention to the interpretive work done by the viewer, who gives these objects their meanings. Johns suggests that it is only vision and a priori memory that can make the raw matter of this painting into sense-bearing things or signs. At the same time, however, the painting underscores that materiality is far from irrelevant to meaning, always governing the thoughts surrounding it.
This talk will address Souvenir and its twin painting, Souvenir 2, in exploring the conflicted role Johns posits for matter in the conjuring of memory, as well as in the making of meaning more generally.
The Inter-Departmental Program in Art and Archeology, The University of Michigan
"A Monument to Antiquity: The Late Hellenistic Lindian Temple Stele"
This paper explores the meeting of ancient antiquarianism, religion, relics and history. I examine a particular monument-the Lindian temple stele of the first century BC-and the text inscribed upon it, in order to build an analysis of ways of viewing and using relics or antiquities that is, objects from the past deemed worthy of remembering and talking about-in late Hellenistic Greece. Drawing upon epigraphy, archaeology and art history, I approach the monument as an artifact and its text as a window onto the ancient use of material remains from the past. I limit this paper to two main ideas: first, I set out how the authors of the stele imagined the temple's past, and, second, I explore the links between historical relics and the divine.
In 99 BC the people of the Lindos commissioned Timachidas, a poet, philologist and local antiquarian, and Tharsagoras, otherwise unknown, to catalogue forty-two votive offerings made to Athena, their donors, inscriptions, material, and the circumstances which led to their being offered. The catalog cited twenty-four literary texts, letters and temple archives which made reference to these votives. The offereings spanned from the time of the eponymous hero Lindus (pre-Trojan War) to that of King Philip V of Macedon (c. 200 BC). The catalog reported, for instance, that Herakles dedicated two wicker shields; Helen of Troy gave a pair of bracelets. A record of four epiphanies of the goddess followed the catalog.
The catalog was inscribed upon a monumental marble slab which is roughly eight feet high and three feet wide. This stele was set up in the porch of the temple where it stood in for the votives, many of which had been destroyed in a fire. The monument told the history of the temple through the list of votives and epiphanies. It assumed that the temple existed in times earlier than the Trojan War, that the heroes themselves had made the offerings and that these offerings had been kept and preserved over the course of the centuries. The monument did not present these objects as historical documents which could reveal past worlds, rather it recorded them as traces from and proofs of an already well-known past.
A study of the stele shows that the people of Lindos used ancient objects, and their monument to these objects, to construct the antiquity of their temple and thereby glorify their goddess, increase the fame of their sanctuary and attract pilgrims and tourists. As a historical marker, the stele shows that the people of Lindos had a sense of their cultural heritage which led them to record the relics of their past permanently in stone. As a religious monument, it shows that these antiquities were associated with the divine.
Schedule * Sponsors * Committee Members * Contact Information * Abstracts