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About this conference

Join us for the seventh annual 2-day conference in Critical Theory "Visualizing Theory" with keynote speakers Anne Carson and Kaja Silverman. This conference seeks to examine all aspects of visual perception—its evolution, practice, interpretation, and role in shaping literature, the arts, political discourse, ethics, and identity—in order to interrogate the functions and effects of what we see. We welcome a wide range of disciplines and theoretical approaches, including literary theory, psychoanalysis, identity theory, semiotics, philosophy, social theory, cultural studies, media studies, postcolonialism, gender studies, and political theory.

In Timaeus, Plato writes “Vision is the cause of the greatest benefit to us…it has given the means of research into the nature of the Universe,” firmly placing vision at the center of critical enquiry. Contemplation and judgment based on sight have therefore been intrinsic to Critical Theory since inception, with the word “theory” literally meaning “things looked at.” A vital component of human experience, sight serves as the basis of education, thought, and persuasion; even non-visual media seek to evoke a visual reaction in audiences through the use of imagery and ekphrasis. The visual continued to shape the discipline of Critical Theory as theorists engaged with new forms of visual media in order to investigate altered modes of interpretation and perception. The globalization and technology of the present era makes accessible a greater number of images across larger distances, allowing us to see more than we ever have. The evaluation of what we see continues to permeate all aspects of society: artistic expression, ethical constructs, political institutions, and personal identities.

Please click here for the full conference schedule and more information.


Thu, May 10th, 6:30pm- Anne Carson: Envisioning the Classics. Click here to RSVP to this lecture.

Fri, May 11th, 6:30pm- Kaja Silverman: The Photographic Image. Click here to RSVP to this lecture.

Cosponsored by Critical Theory Certificate Program, The Center for the Humanities, Writers’ Institute, and Office of Public Programming at the Graduate Center, CUNY, The Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC), the Doctoral Students' Council, Mise-en-Scène, & Constance Old in memory of her brother Lloyd Old.