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Didier Maleuvre workshop

hi all

just confirming that Didier Maleuvre from University of California will be running a workshop for interested postgraduate students on Thursday 22 July.

I’m yet to finalise the details with him but would anticipate something relatively informal — students will be asked to read one or two papers by Didier, he will give a talk for half and hour or so, and then engage the group in discussion relevant to your research projects. I’m copying below summaries of his main works which indicate the kind of thematic ground he is likely to cover; our early communications suggested he might do something broadly on imagination.

If you are interested in participating in this event could you please make contact with me?

thanks, Melinda

Museum Memories: History, Technology, Art (Stanford 1999)

From its inception in the early nineteenth century, the museum has been more than a mere historical object; it has manufactured an image of history. In collecting past artifacts, the museum gives shape and presence to history, defining the space of a ritual encounter with the past. The museum believes in history, yet it behaves as though history could be summarized and completed. By building a monument to the end of history and lifting art out of the turmoil of historical survival, the museum is said to dehistoricize the artwork. It replaces historicity with historiography, and living history turns into timelessness.

This twofold process explains the paradoxical character of museums. They have been accused of being both too heavy with historical dust and too historically spotless, excessively historicizing artworks while cutting them off from the historical life in which artworks are born. Thus the museum seems contradictory because it lectures about the historical nature of its objects while denying the same objects the living historical connection about which it purports to educate.

The contradictory character of museums leads the author to a philosophical reflection on history, one that reconsiders the concept of culture and the historical value of art in light of the philosophers, artists, and writers who are captivated by the museum. Together, their voices prompt a reevaluation of the concepts of historical consciousness, artistic identity, and the culture of objects in the modern period. The author shows how museum culture offers a unique vantage point on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries’ preoccupation with history and subjectivity, and he demonstrates how the constitution of the aesthetic provides insight into the realms of technology, industrial culture, architecture, and ethics.

The Religion of Reality: Inquiry into Self, Art and Transcendence (2006, Catholic University of America Press)

The Religion of Reality takes to task the assumption according to which the modern intellect is devoid of the transcendental. The book first argues that religious feeling persists in the secular western mind; that it has taken refuge in the unlikeliest of camps, with the supposed debunker of religious creed: the rationalist existential ego. The autonomous, individual self is the pillar of modern times – a deity that anchors our morals, politics, and society, and defines what is crucial about human existence. On this score, The Religion of Reality makes two points: first that the philosophic primacy of the self rests on a leap of faith; and second that its religious centrality cannot ultimately satisfy the transcendental thirst that it kindles. The book constructively inquires into the artistic paths that lead away from this anthropocentrism. Art, it is often said, is the religion of the modern secular mind. This study argues that there are good reasons for this status. Taking seriously the age-old connection between art and religion, the book presents just how the spiritual is active in the artistic experience, whether of religious or secular stamp. Artworks are attempts to overcome the limits of expression and knowledge, hence of the human standpoint. The Religion of Reality is not an attempt to resuscitate the religion ofart; rather it is a demonstration of the religious in art.

The Horizon: A History of Our Infinite Longing (University of California Press 2010)

What is a horizon? A line where land meets sky? The end of the world or the beginning of perception? In this brilliant, engaging, and stimulating history, Didier Maleuvre journeys to the outer reaches of human experience and probes philosophy, religion, and art to understand our struggle and fascination with limits—of life, knowledge, existence, and death. Horizons delineate the physical world and give our lives shape, purpose, and meaning; yet history provides a record of humanity’s instinctual urge to transcend boundaries and seek what lies beyond. Maleuvre sweeps us through a vast cultural landscape, enabling us to experience each stopping place as the cusp of a limitless journey, whether he is discussing the works of Picasso, Gothic architecture, Beethoven, or General Relativity. If, as Aristotle said, philosophy begins in wonder, then this remarkable book shows us how wonder—the urge to know beyond the conceivable—is itself the engine of culture.


June 16, 2010 Posted by | Symposium, Workshop | | Leave a comment

Imaging Identity symposium

Dear All, a reminder

Imaging Identity: Media, Memory and Visions of Humanity in the Digital Present

Hosted by the National Portrait Gallery and Humanities Research Centre, Research School of Humanities and the Arts, Australian National University.
Venue National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Dates: 15-17 July 2010.

Program and Abstracts are now on-line at:

We have extended the early bird registration to 19 June.

June 3, 2010 Posted by | Symposium | | Leave a comment

The Research School of Humanities & the Arts presents;

The Research School of Humanities & the Arts presents,
6 Conversations Seminar Series: on the shifting relationships between art museums and their publics

Conversation 1 – The Considered Life

Venue: National Portrait Gallery, 12.30 pm Wednesday 21 April

Associate Professor John Armstrong, Philosopher-in-Residence at the Melbourne Business School and Andrew Sayers, Director National Portrait Gallery, discuss the ideas that guide our lives and the ways in which these ideas are presented in portraiture.
Pamela Clelland Gray, Head of Education and Visitor Services, National Portrait Gallery will chair the conversation.

For more information on the 6 Conversations series visit:
Or contact Dr Melinda Hinkson,

April 7, 2010 Posted by | Seminar | | Leave a comment

Dear all – re the symposium mentioned in an earlier post…

Registration is now open for
A symposium hosted by the National Portrait Gallery and the Humanities Research Centre, RSHA, Australian National University.
Venue: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Dates: 15-17 July 2010
In conjunction with the exhibition ‘Present Tense’ at the National Portrait Gallery and the 2010 Biennale of Sydney, ‘The Beauty of Distance: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age’

Registration Form and Accommodation Suggestions

Keynote speakers
WJT Mitchell, Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History, University of Chicago
David Elliott, Independent curator and Artistic Director of the 2010 Biennale of Sydney
David Marr, Journalist, author and commentator

Confirmed speakers include
David Campbell, University of Durham
Justin Clemens, University of Melbourne
Helen Ennis, School of Art, Australian National University
Martyn Jolly, School of Art, Australian National University
Didier Maleuvre, University of California
David MacDougall, Australian National University
Ian Maclean, University of Western Australia
Anna Munster, Centre for Contemporary Art and Politics, University of New South Wales
Elizabeth Rankin, Auckland University

Melinda Hinkson RSH, ANU
Howard Morphy RSH, ANU
Louise Doyle NPG
Pamela Clelland Gray NPG
Michael Desmond NPG
Caroline Turner RSH, ANU

More information go to Website:

April 7, 2010 Posted by | Symposium | | Leave a comment