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Engaging Images: Art History and Anthropology in Conversation

Friday, December 6, 2019
3:00-6:00 PM
Amphitheatre - 4th floor Rackham Graduate School (Horace H.) Map
A symposium in honor of Jennifer Robertson and Celeste Brusati.


Art and/as "Historical Ethnography"
Julie Hochstrasser - University of Iowa

In which an art historian reflects upon the role of anthropology in her scholarship on the seventeenth-century Dutch across the course of her career, pausing to dwell upon several case studies in greater depth. Explores the notion of "historical ethnography" in several respects: examples of early modern artists as proto-ethnographers, and on the other hand, the art historian herself as ethnographer, tackling subjects doubly distanced, both culturally and temporally.

"Historically Hot: Reimagining Beauty from Japan's Past"
Laura Miller - University of Missouri, St. Louis

Who was considered to be a beautiful man or a gorgeous woman in Japan’s ancient period? What did an attractive Edo samurai or courtesan look like? When contemporary popular culture producers set out to create manga, anime, film and TV series set in historical eras, they often find that the beauty standards of long ago are quite different from contemporary reader and viewer standards. Rather than try to represent historically accurate appearance, artists and writers meld some aspects of historic fashion with recent ideals for body and facial types. This presentation will feature several reimagined historical figures who are represented by actors, cosplayers, or drawn characters who reflect today’s beauty ideology rather than those of the periods they are portraying. Although some efforts are made to depict the costumes and hairstyles of the period, the desire to cater to current beauty norms dominates these productions.

"Lodging/Dwelling/Painting in Elizabethan England"
Elizabeth Alice Honig - University of Maryland, College Park

From the Old Testament to Heidegger and beyond, the concept of “dwelling” has been freighted with significance. It has meant belonging and being chosen, shared community and special entitlement, a state of mind as well as one of physical habitation, the possession of selfhood and of a perspective on the world. This paper explores “dwelling” in Renaissance England, particularly considering those who lack that privilege. It takes as its foci first, a set of Elizabethan wall paintings at Pittleworth Manor that depicts the story of rich Dives and the roaming beggar Lazarus; and second, the prison run by Pittleworth’s recusant owner, which became a kind of dwelling-place for imprisoned Catholics.

"Gas Mask Nation: Visualizing Civil Air Defense in Wartime Japan"
Gennifer Weisenfeld - Duke University

An army of schoolgirls march through Tokyo, their faces an anonymous procession of gas masks. Photographer Horino Masao’s Gas Mask Parade, Tokyo from 1936 is one of the most iconic images of the anxious modernism of 1930s Japan. It reveals the vivid yet prosaic inculcation of fear in Japanese daily life through the increasingly pervasive visual culture of civil defense. Japan’s invasion of Manchuria in late 1931—the beginning of its Fifteen-Year War—marks the onset of a period of intense social mobilization and militarization on the home front as the war zone expanded on the continent and throughout the Pacific. Surveillance, secrecy, darkness, defensive barriers, physical security, and prophylaxis all became standard visual tropes of national preparedness and communal anxiety. Still, amidst this anxiety, a culture of pleasure and wonder persisted, a culture in which tasty Morinaga-brand caramels were sold to children with paper gas masks as promotional giveaways, and popular magazines featured everything from attractive models in the latest civil defense fashions to marvelous futuristic wartime weapons. The visual and material culture of civil air defense or bōkū titillated the senses, even evoking the erotic through the monstrously enticing gas mask figures marching through the streets.

Prevailing scholarship portrays the war years in Japan as a landscape of privation where consumer and popular culture—and creativity in general—were suppressed under the massive censorship of the war machine. Without denying the horrors of total war, this understanding of the cultural climate needs revision. Pleasure, desire, wonder, creativity, and humor were all still abundantly present. Humanity persisted in its complexity. Therefore, by grasping the full nature of wartime’s all-encompassing sensory and compensatory enticements, the dangers of its mix of sacrifice and gratification are unmasked
Building: Rackham Graduate School (Horace H.)
Event Type: Conference / Symposium
Tags: Anthropology, Art, Art History, Japanese Studies
Source: Happening @ Michigan from History of Art, Center for Japanese Studies, Women's and Gender Studies Department, Penny W Stamps School of Art & Design, Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS), Department of Anthropology