Visual Culture

This forum seeks to foster an interdisciplinary discussion about issues of vision, visuality, and visual culture. Our goal is to develop a dialogue among scholars studying vision as a biological/physical operation, those researching and writing about visual objects both contemporary and historical, and artists creating original work.

Sara F Hall, Germanic Studies
Margarita Saona, Hispanic and Italian Studies


“Janela da Alma”
Tuesday, 11/17 2:00 PM to Tuesday, 11/17 3:30 PM

“Janela da Alma”  (73 min, Dir. João Jardim, Portuguese with English subtitles). Documentary about blindness which includes an interviews with nineteen people, including José Saramago, with differing degree of visual impairment – from mild near-sightedness to total blindness – who discuss how they see themselves, how they see others and how they perceive the world.

Viewing in conjunction with MOSTRA – Brazilian Film Series!home/cjg9

Between Formalism and Politics: The Cinema of Walter Ruttmann
Thursday, 10/16 12:30 PM to Thursday, 10/16 1:50 PM

Norbert Schmitz
Muthesius Kunsthochschule Kiel

In this talk, Norbert Schmitz (art historian, media studies scholar and professor at the Muthesius Kunsthochschule Kiel ) will address the political force of the avant-garde image in the films Berlin-Sinfonie einer Großstadt and Ruttman’s late documentary and propaganda films Mannesmann (1937), Henkel, ein deutsches Werk in seiner Arbeit (1938) Waffenkammern Deutschlands (1940) and Deutsche Panzer (1940).

Norbert Schmitz’s research specialties include films of the classical avant-garde, aesthetic strategies of modernism and interactive media arts.

The talk will be in English and followed by a reception.

Co-Sponsors:  UIC Germanic Studies, Moving Image Arts and the School of Art and Art History.

“Visual Cultural Studies:  From Beginning to Now”
Thursday, 9/26 4:00 PM to Thursday, 9/26 6:00 PM

Since the mid-1990’s, the study of visual culture has influenced the disciplines of literature, history, art history, photography, film studies, critical race theory, visual anthropology, and urban studies. Peter Erickson and Clark Hulse will initiate a discussion of the theory and practice of visual cultural studies over the course of its development.  Opening with a reflection on the genesis of their pioneering volume from 2000, Early Modern Visual Culture: Representation, Race and Empire, they will trace the trajectories of their own subsequent work, and invite a group conversation about the current state and future direction of the field.

Clark Hulse is Professor Emeritus of English and Art History at UIC.

Peter Erickson is Senior Lecturer in Theater and African-American Studies at Northwestern University. Previously he held appointments at Williams College and the Clark Art Institute.

Recommended Readings:

Erickson, Peter and Clark Hulse.  “Introduction.”  Early Modern Visual Culture: Representation, Race, and Empire in Renaissance England (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000):  1-14.

Erickson, Peter. “Invisibility Speaks: Servants and Portraits in Early Modern Visual Culture.” Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies Spring/Summer 9.1 (2009): 23-61.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013, 02:17 PM
 Mike Bullis, Tom Palazzolo, Silvia Malagrino
“Vivian Maier’s South Side”

This program is free and open to the public.  

Please join us for a  special evening showcasing Vivian Maier’s images of Chicago’s south side and rare 8mm films.  Vivian Maier made an estimated 140,000 photographs, the vast majority of them in and around Chicago, as well as 8mm color films whose compositions echo her still images.

Panel discussion:
Mike Bullis of Vivian Maier Photography
Filmmaker Tom Palazzolo
UIC Professor of Photography Silvia Malagrino

“Vivian Maier’s South Side” will include a fascinating film she made of historic Maxwell Street life, as well as portions of films she shot in the Chicago Loop. Media specialist Mike Bullis has assembled a special selection of Maier’s photos of the South Side from the Jeffry Goldstein collection, and South Side Projections will present this along with a short film by Bullis and Chicago filmmaker Tom Palazzolo examining Vivian Maier’s life and legacy to provide context for the entire program. Bullis, Palazzolo, and Malagrino will offer commentary and insights into Maier’s work throughout the program.

For more information about Vivian Maier:

For program or accommodation information,

This program is free and open to the public.

-Vivian Maier Photography
-South Side Projections
-UIC’s Moving Image Arts minor
-UIC School of Art & Art History
-Visual Culture Working Group at the UIC Institute for the Humanities and the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum

Monday, April 29, 2013, 03:30 PM
 Guillermina De Ferrari, University of Wisconsin, Madison
“Ethics is the new Aesthetics”

“Ethics is the New Aesthetics” addresses the search for new aesthetic paradigms in contemporary Cuba. I have argued elsewhere that the extraordinary duration of the revolutionary social contract can be attributed to the effective substitution of ethics for ideology in government rhetoric. In this talk, I will analyze various forms of visual representation based on exaggerated materiality and unmediated sensorial effects: the photographic series Naked Eyes by Abigail González and Man Made Materials by René Peña, and installations by José Toirac, Ernesto Leal and José Manuel Fors. I suggest that the materiality of postmodern Cuban realism works as a strategy for re-appropriating ethical language, turning crude aesthetics into an unconscious form of ethics.

Guillermina De Ferrari teaches Latin American and Caribbean literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She specializes in contemporary Caribbean narrative and Postcolonial theory. Her articles can be found in The Latin American Literary Review, The Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, The Hispanic Review, The Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies, among others. Her book Vulnerable States: Bodies of Memory in Contemporary Caribbean Fiction was published through The University of Virginia Press. She is currently working on a book on the topic of friendship and civil societies in contemporary Cuban narrative. Her talk will present an interdisciplinary approach to hyperrealism that will engage our students interested in contemporary narrative as well as those studying visual cultures.

Thursday, November 8, 2012, 09:00 AM
“Reflexivity and the Small Form: A Symposium”
9:00-9:45 am – Coffee

9:45 -10:00 am -Welcome

10:00-11:45 am
Moderator:  Sara  Hall  (University  of  Illinois  at  Chicago)
Commentator:  Virginia  Wright  Wexman  (University  of  Illinois  at

Jennifer  Reeder  (University  of  Illinois  at  Chicago)
“NEVERMIND:  form  follows  feminism”

John  E.  Davidson  (Ohio  State  University) “Deutschland,  O  Nein!
Reflexivity  and  Form  through  13  Short  Films on  the  State  of  the

2:00-3:45  pm
Moderator:  Dagmar  C.G.  Lorenz  (University  of  Illinois  at   Chicago)
Commentator:  Steven  Marsh  (University  of  Illinois  at   Chicago)

Kevin  B.  Lee  (Video  Essayist  and  Founding  Editor, Fandor;  Editor and
Video  Producer,  Indiewire  Press  Play) “Fast+Free+Fun  =  Fullfilling?:
Observations  on  Trends  in Online Video—Form Film  Studies”

Tom  Gunning  (University  of  Chicago)
“Count  Down:  from  the  urgency  of  compression  to   infinite

4:00-5:30 pm – Keynote  address
Volker  Pantenburg  (University  of  Illinois  at  Chicago/   Bauhaus
University Weimar)
“In  and  Beyond  the  Shot.  Reflexivity  and  the  Small  Form”

The  Symposium  is  free  and  open  to  the  public.
RSVP  to  Julia  Koxholt  at For  more  information,
please  contact  Elizabeth  Loentz  at

Presented with the support of the UIC Department of Germanic Studies,
Gallery 400, The Institute for the Humanities, The School of Literatures,
Cultural Studies, and Linguistics, the Department of English, the Department
of Hispanic and Italian Studies, Moving Image Arts and the Department of

This is the inaugural meeting of the Visual Culture Working Group.  This forum seeks to foster an interdisciplinary discussion about issues of vision, visuality, and visual culture. Our goal is to develop a dialogue among scholars studying vision as a biological/physical operation, those researching and writing about visual objects both contemporary and historical, and artists creating original work.

Halsted Street 1934:  Film Screening, Commentary, and Discussion
Friday, September 16, 2011, 1:00-3:00 PM 
Resident’s Dining Hall, Jane Addams Hull-House, 800 S. Halsted

Please join us for a screening of a historical gem:  Conrad O. Nelson’s Halsted Street(1934).  Halsted Street is one of the films made by the Chicago Film and Photo League, nominally associated with the Workers’ International Relief and the Communist Party, that dealt with labor issues in Chicago and other locales as well as slum conditions in Chicago. This fifteen minute film gives a tour of the city’s longest street that begins with the rural far-south side and ends amid the mansions of Uptown.

Film:  Halsted Street (Conrad O. Nelson, 1934, 15 minutes)

Related articles:
Addams, Jane. “First days at Hull-House.” Twenty Years at Hull-House.  Ed. Victoria Bissell Brown.  New York:  Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1999.

Addams, Jane, and Florence Scala, Studs Terkel, and Dick Simpson.  “Halsted Street Saga.” Inside Urban Politics:  Voices from America’s Cities and Suburbs./ Ed. Dick Simpson.  Pearson/Longman:  2004.

Joshua S. Malitsky, Department of Communication and Culture, Indiana University
Joshua Malitsky is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication & Culture at Indiana University.  His research and teaching focus on the relationship between non-fiction film and social and political change, especially in post-revolutionary contexts.  He is the author of Post-Revolution Non-Fiction Film: Building the Soviet and Cuban Nations (Indiana University Press, 2012).  His articles have been published (or are forthcoming shortly) in Screening the Past, the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Studies in Documentary Film, Cinema Journal, the Journal of Visual Culture, and Culture, Theory and Critique.

Vincent L. Michael, John H. Bryan Chair in Historic Preservation, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Vincent L. Michael is the John H. Bryan Chair in Historic Preservation At The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he was Director of the Master of Science in Historic Preservation Program from 1996 to 2010.  He is a Trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, serves on the Board of Landmarks Illinois and the Senior Advisory Board for the Global Heritage Fund. He is Chair Emeritus of the National Council for Preservation Education, and the Gaylord Building, a National Trust property. He has authored a weekly blog since 2005 and articles in several publications.

Public Lecture: Monday, March 5, 2012 at 3:30 p.m.
Institute for the Humanities, lower level Stevenson Hall, 701 S. Morgan

Jorge Coronado
Department of Spanish & Portuguese, Northwestern University

“On Portraits and Meaning: Studio Photography in the Southern Andes, 1910-1940”

Perhaps the most difficult challenge in studying photographs is resisting the temptation to narrativize what they image. This is the case in the presence of the facts that history, archives, and informants afford us; but it is also holds, curiously, when faced with photos about which we know little.  In this paper, I consider the stakes of narrativizing photographic images in order to propose approaches to photography that attempt to wed the contextual circumstances of production to, on the one hand, the desire that originates them and, on the other, the technical knowledge that produces them.  I will focus on studio photography in the southern Andes in the early 20th century, with examples from the work of Sebastián Rodríguez, Julio Cordero, Martín Chambi, and others.

The Visual Culture Working Group seeks to foster an interdisciplinary discussion about issues of vision, visuality, and visual culture. Our goal is to develop a dialogue among scholars studying vision as a biological/physical operation, those researching and writing about visual objects both contemporary and historical, and artists creating original work.
Group organized by:
Sara F. Hall, Germanic Studies
Norma Claire Moruzzi, Political Science and Gender and Women’s Studies
Margarita Saona, Hispanic and Italian Studies