The interactive calendar at the right lists all public lectures and travels. If you click on the links you can get more information about venues and schedules of events.

If you’d like to invite me to lecture or for a reading, please check availability, and then send an email here.

Lecture topics are listed at the bottom of the page. Some have links to previews of the Keynote (PowerPoint) presentations. 


Readings of fiction and experimental writing are done in the usual way, except that these texts contain images, which are shown as slides. I also do writing workshops on the subject of experimental writing in and around visuality.

  • What Photography Is: selected passages on the malaise and writing style of Roland Barthes's Camera Lucida. 
  • Our Beautiful, Dry, and Distant Texts: Art History as Writing: selected passages from the book of that name, read as writing.
  • What Photography Is: selected passages on acts of obsessive and compulsive seeing, bordering on meaninglessness.
  • What Photography Is: selected passages on images of pain, on the pain of seeing, and of writing.


Lecture Topics

The following topics are available. My current interests are toward the top of each column. Note the excerpts from the Keynote (PowerPoint) lectures are just meant as samples; they don’t contain the texts of the talks, and they aren't kept up to date. They're just meant to give an idea of what the talks include. These are available in HD (1920 x 1080), SXGA (1280 x 1024), and XGA (1024 x 768).

  • What is an Image? A report on the state of thinking about what visual objects are, based on the book of the same title. This is a philosophically-oriented talk, better for graduate and interdisciplinary audiences. 
  • Current Issues in Visualization A discussion of some epistemological, practical, and political problems raised by the current "visualization euphoria" in science and popular culture. Examples from physics, economics, mathematics, social media "infographics," and medicine. 
  • Limits of the Discussion of Writing in Art History A meditation on the lack of attention to writing in the discipline: we don't teach close reading, literary critical criteria, writing style, voice, mode, or narrative: we mainly just encourage clarity and concision. 
  • Philosophy of Images that Can Kill Based on a conference and book called "Image Operations"; the lecture is on ways of understanding images that produce actual bodily effects, including death, as in videos made to give evidence of executions, or videos taken by missiles, or images used in computer-assisted surgery. 
  • Current Unresolved Issues in the Globalization of Art History This isn't about global art (as in Carrie Jones's new book) but global writing of art history; I pay special attention to the unnoticed dissemination of European models of art historical writing, and the disappearance of difference in art history. See sample slides here.
  • Future of the Image Based on a paper given in Amsterdam for an event of that name, based on the book What is an Image?. It focuses on current issues around the politics of images and images of politics.
  • Connections Between Religion and Contemporary Art A report following on from the book On The Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art, including material based on criticisms, and a report on the book Re-EnchantmentSee sample slides here.
  • Four Models of First-Year Art Education, Why They Are Incompatible On the Bauhaus, the academic model, and two others, which together comprise the major possibilities for educating artists. See sample slides here.
  • The PhD in Studio Art A comprehensive report on the emerging “terminal” degree, as it is being implemented around the world). This is full of statistics, and best suited for students and administrators in PhD programs.
  • Visual Practices Across the University Report on the book of that same name, which is an attempt to consider how people in all departments of a university use and interpret images, and how a first-year course might use that material to introduce visuality into a university education. See sample slides here.
  • Representations of Pain This includes photos of Chinese torture and their relation to formal analysis as it is practiced in art history: this is a very hard lecture for some audiences. See sample slides here.
  • Problems Posed for Film Theory by Scientific Films A consideration of temporality, instantaneity, and duration in film theory, and the ways that scientific films challenge those formulations.
  • Unsolved Issues in Contemporary Art Criticism Discussion of the conceptual, institutional, and practical problems in art criticism; based on What Happened to Art Criticism? and he State of Art Criticism. A video of a short version of this lecture is online.
  • Kunstwissenschaft and Art History, Two Forgotten Subjects On the history of the discipline, including concepts of Bildwissenschaft and visual studies. See sample slides here.
  • The Image in the Text of Art History Thoughts on how images work in relation to prose: how art history tends to use images as mnemonics and as ornaments; how visual studies has yet to make good on its promise to let images "theorize" and lead arguments; how the same happens in fiction (Sebald, Carson, etc.).
  • Writing with Images A report on the ongoing project of that name, which is an inquiry into the theory and history of books—mostly fiction—that include images—mostly photographs; Sebald is the canonical, but not the central, example.
  • Thoughts on the Future of Art History An undergraduate lecture, on the “threat” of visual studies, the relation between art history and other fields that study visuality, the worldwide spread of art history, and the subjects art historians study. See sample slides here.
  • Problems in Photography Theory Report on the book, Photography Theory, with emphasis on the sources of incoherence in current theorizing on photography. See sample slides here.
  • Thirteen Unsolved Problems in the Theory of Landscape On the current conceptualizations of geography, landscape, and its representation, following on from the book Landscape Theory. See sample slides here.
  • Incoherence and Coherence in the Art World A discussion of the 7 books in the Art Seminar series, each of which revealed a different kind of incoherence beyond pluralism or simple relativism, pointing to structural limitations in how much sense talk about art can make. This talk is best for upper-level graduate seminars in historiography and art theory.
  • How To Use Your Eyes, And How Some Animals Use Their Eyes Exercises in seeing, and the relevance of animal vision for understanding human vision—good for general cross-university audiences, undergraduates, etc. See sample slides here.
  • The Concepts of Empathy and Sympathy A philosophic paper on absorption, immersion, theatricality, self-awareness, and other related concepts in contemporary art theory. See sample slides here.
  • Sources of Theorizing on the Body in Recent Art Aimed at upper-level undergraduate art history, visual studies, and studio art students, but also suitable for a graduate seminar. See sample slides here.
  • Strategies of Museum Display Lecture first given at MoMA, about the application of theories of modern and postmodern art to the strategies of museum installation; this is a half-hour presentation, not a full lecture, suited for upper-level undergraduate and beginning graduate seminars. See sample slides here.
  • Can Pictures Think? A talk on the various theories that have been mobilized to articulate the impression that pictures–especially paintings and drawings–somehow possess a quality that is like thought, or can themselves propose thought, or give voice to thought; for PhD and theoretically-inclined MFA students. See sample slides here.
  • What Photography Is: A Meditation on Roland Barthes's Camera Lucida  Lecture on the book of the same name, focusing on limitations and agendas of the book, and reviews of it.
  • Farewell to Visual Studies A report on the 2011 Stone Summer Theory Institute, and the book of the same name: a survey of ideas about the possible histories, present forms, and future trajectories of visual studies.
  • Are Art Theory and Art Criticism Global? In the ongoing conversations about the globalization of art there has been almost no discussion of the possibility that art criticism and theory are also becoming uniform worldwide; Ranciere, Flusser, etc. are global figures, and there are no non-European alternatives. (For example, Chinese art theory is not used to explain European art, but French art theorists are cited to explain Chinese art.)
  • Limits of the Criticism of Writing in the Humanities On the absence of the tools of literary theory and rhetoric in fields such as sociology, anthropology, and art history, with special reference to examples such as Rosalind Krauss, Alex Nemerov, Stephen Greenblatt, and Saul Kripke.
  • Current Problems in Visual Studies Includes material on art history survey courses, and a critique of the political efficacy and ambition of visual studies). This is related to the Stone Summer Theory Institute for 2011, “Farewell to Visual Studies". See sample slides here.
  • The End of the Theory of the Gaze A survey of theories of the gaze, from Sartre to the present, with critiques of each. Suitable for graduate seminars.
  • Limits of Materiality in Art History On recent attempts to broaden art historical interpretation to include tactility, materiality, matter, and substance; the talk considers talk about materiality as a trope in art history, and argues that art history generally avoids close encounters with the substance of painting and other arts. See sample slides here.
  • The North / South Dichotomy in Albrecht Dürer An examination of Dürer’s prints, in closeup, for signs of “Northern” [German] and “Southern” [Italian] forms, as inPanofsky’s account; for printmaking students and undergraduate art history students. See sample slides here.
  • The Shapes of Art History An undergraduate lecture on the different arrangements of art history’s periods, following on from Stories of Art; this lecture can be accompanied by a workshop in which everyone draws their own diagrams of art history. See sample slides here.
  • The Detail On the limits of close reading and close looking; examples include details of paintings, Neolithic artifacts, images that are perceived as painful or shocking, and theorizing on details in recent art historical writing. The lecture contains of the book What Painting Is.
  •  A History of Twentieth- and Twenty-first Century Art Institutions in the U.S. A survey of kinds of art schools and departments, with a look at the major issues: models of instruction, selectivity, diversity, and the place of liberal arts. This is suitable for art education students, and for adminstrators. Lots of statistics.
  • Writing About Intense Encounters with Artworks First given at the National Gallery, London; this is about strategies museums might adopt to foster immersive and emotional encounters, and the optimal theories of such encounters.
  • Empathy, Affect, Obsession, Boredom A survey of current theories of affect and other non-verbal forms of encounter with artworks; the last two terms are developed from the book What Photography Is.
  • Beyond the Aesthetic and the Anti-Aesthetic A report on the 2010 Stone Summer Theory Institute, and the book of the same name: a survey of current thinking on what might develop in the wake of the dialectic opposition of aesthetic modernism and anti-aesthetic, politically oriented art practices.