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Events & Appearances

A History of the Book Working Group Conference
UC Berkeley 
"Faking it: Forgery and Problems of Authenticity" 
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Paper Title: The Artist as Hero: Unpacking the Mythmaking of Nineteenth Century German Painter-Adventurers

  • Abstract: This presentation analyzes the showmanship that accompanied repeated tropes of exoticism and violence in the work of artists whose personal reputations as ethnographic experts were an essential component of their artistic careers. Carl Wimar (1828-1862, Düsseldorf Art Academy), Adolf Hoeffler (1825-1898, Frankfurt, Munich and Düsseldorf Art Academies), Adolf Schreyer (1828-1899, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt Art Academies), Friedrich Frisch (1813-1886, Darmstädt Art Academy), Eugen Bracht (1842-1921, Darmstadt Art Academy), Carl Coven Schirm (1852-1928, Karlsruhe Art Academy), and Adolf von Meckel (1856-1893, Karlsruhe Art Academy) formed a mid to late nineteenth-century group of German art academy-trained painters capitalized on growing popular interest in the exotic. These artists and the consumers of their art were immersed in a culture captivated by the powerful lore of the scientist-explorer-hero role set by Winkelmann, Schliemann, Humboldt and others. Fictionalized accounts of wilderness adventure by James Fennimore Cooper, Balduin Möllhausen and Friedrich Gestäcker stoked their ambition to depict "authentic" images of the wild men and exotic places found in their highly popular literature.  In an era that attached great value to empirical knowldege, self-reliance and adventure, artists produced personal biographies that appealed to their market by attaching the traits of explorer-scientist to their artistic personae. Paintings of Arab warriors on horseback or Native Americans engaged in battle appealed doubly when presented by artistic subjects and superior to them. After traveling to the landscapes they depicted, these artists were interviewed in the popular press, published travel accounts and personal letters that display a savvy salesmanship aimed at furthering the storytelling aspect of their careers. They purchased costumes and artifacts for display and staging purposes. While accessibility to the foreign was more available than in previous eras and highly prized, it was difficult to verify statements of experience and expertise. These artists marketed their paintings as cultural documentation. As if for a cabinet of curiosities, the artists catalogued their subjects, providing a visual safari for the Imperialist gaze. As such, they are part of over a century of effort to represent subjugated people as logically belonging in a submissive relationship to agents of modernity.   

Southeastern College Art Conference
Text + Texture: The Intersection of Academics and the Arts
Savannah, Georgia
Nov. 9-12, 2011
Presentation Title: 
Individual History Projects in Authentic Interdisciplinary Learning: What Instructors in Higher Education Can Learn from the Secondary Social Studies Classroom 

  • Abstract: Too often the secondary school instructor is derided for laying too much stake in pedagogy – with reference to assignments that allow for ineffective group/individual presentations and result in diluted class content and little genuine student learning. Faculty within higher education, on the other hand, are characterized as facilitating, at best, riveting instructor led discussions or, at worst, lifeless podium presentations - either way, a presentation of instructor expertise that does not often allow for authentic student learning. Increasingly, university instructors are transcending the traditional boundaries and expectations of undergraduate and graduate class structures in recognition of research in cognitive science and memory.
    The inadequacies identified by these oft heard criticisms are addressed by the key strengths of strong portfolio assignments. These types of projects are sometimes referred to as “museum projects” because they incorporate research, analysis, interpretation, and multimedia communication in much the same way as is found in a special exhibit at an art or cultural history museum. Portfolio/museum projects require students to interact with source material as critical purveyors of their subject’s narrative.  The process of presentation allows students to synthesize knowledge and skills. The strict parameters of the assignments ensure content depth as well as authentic learning.

Midwest World History Association Conference
Alverno College, Milwaukee WI
Sept. 14-16, 2011
Workshop Title
: Buzzzz- What do the words and phrases commonly used in World History curricular guides, textbooks, assessments, and professional papers suggest about the intentions inherent within the field?

·      Abstract: Professional jargon can be fleeting. Words, when over-used, can lose meaning. However, the prevalence of specific terminology hints toward the users’ motives. Current scholarship in the field of history has led to a rethinking of established views, reflecting greater sensitivity to variations in cultures, social systems, and political economies. Phrases such as - competing/conflicting world views; frame of reference; point of view; diversity of interpretations; ethical imperialism; causal relationships; influences and implications; context for understanding; transmission and interaction of religion; POV - express a way of looking at events from the outside with an attempt at attaining distance. This language reinforces belief that objective truth is, to some degree, impossible. Our contemporary historical lexicon promotes post-dualistic thinking that does fuller justice to issues than is possible through the segregation of historical events into distinct and discrete individual units that denies values related ambiguities.