- Special Programs
"Description Across the Disciplines" will consider the relation between description and other modes of engaging with objects of analysis, such as interpretation, evaluation, argument, and critique.
While description has proven to be contentious in literary studies and critical theory, it constitutes a central and prized aspect of scholarly practice in fields such as anthropology, musicology, and art history and has remained so despite critiques of objectivity and the “view from nowhere.”
How have practices of description—from ethnography to ekphrasis—shifted in light of changing views of the role of the observer, scholarly ethics, and epistemology? What protocols are involved in describing people, texts, images, musical scores, and material artifacts?
Questions of description have been taken up recently within several disciplines; we hope to expand these conversations by offering a comparative perspective.
The conference brings together presenters from history, anthropology, psychology, art history, and literary studies alongside curators and artists working in different genres, such as observational documentary and graphic memoir, for whom description represents a crucial aspect of their practice.
For the full list of speaker paper titles and abstracts, please click here.
Heather Love, R. Jean Brownlee Term Associate Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania
Sharon Marcus, Orlando Harriman Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Dean of Humanities, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University
Stephen Best, Associate Professor, Department of English, University of California, Berkeley
Heyman Center for the Humanities
Department of English and Comparative Literature
Department of Music
Department of Anthropology
Department of French and Romance Philology
Department of History
Institute for Comparative Literature and Society