New Books in the Arts & Sciences:
Celebrating Recent Work by Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer
School Photos in Liquid Time: Reframing Difference
By: Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer
From clandestine images of Jewish children isolated in Nazi ghettos and Japanese American children incarcerated in camps to images of Native children removed to North American boarding schools, classroom photographs of schoolchildren are pervasive even in repressive historical and political contexts. School Photos in Liquid Time offers a closer look at this genre of vernacular photography, tracing how photography advances ideologies of social assimilation as well as those of hierarchy and exclusion. In Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer’s deft analysis, school photographs reveal connections between the histories of persecuted subjects in different national and imperial centers.
Exploring what this ubiquitous and mundane but understudied genre tells us about domination as well as resistance, the authors examine school photos as documents of social life and agents of transformation. They place them in dialogue with works by contemporary artists who reframe, remediate, and elucidate them. Ambitious yet accessible, School Photos in Liquid Time presents school photography as a new access point into institutions of power, revealing the capacity of past and present actors to disrupt and reinvent them.
About the Authors:
Marianne Hirsch is William Peterfield Trent Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and Professor in the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality. Her recent books include The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust; Ghosts of Home: The Afterlife of Czernowitz in Jewish Memory, co-authored with Leo Spitzer; and the co-edited Women Mobilizing Memory. Hirsch and Spitzer are co-curators of an exhibit at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, on School Photos and Their Afterlives (January 8 - April 12, 2020).
Leo Spitzer is the K. T. Vernon Professor of History Emeritus and Research Professor at Dartmouth College. He is the author of Hotel Bolivia: The Culture of Memory in a Refuge from Nazism (Hill & Wang); Lives in Between: The Experience of Marginality in a Century of Emancipation (Hill & Wang); The Creoles of Sierra Leone: Responses to Colonialism (Wisconsin); and co-editor, with Mieke Bal and Jonathan Crewe, of Acts of Memory: Cultural Recall in the Present (UPNE). Together with Marianne Hirsch he has also written Ghosts of Home: The Afterlife of Czernowitz in Jewish Memory (California), School Photos in Liquid Time: Reframing Difference (UW), and curated the exhibit The Afterlife of School Photos (Hood Museum of Art).
About the Speakers:
Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is University Professor Emerita and Professor Emerita of Performance Studies at New York University. She is currently Chief Curator of the Core Exhibition at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Her books include Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage; Image before My Eyes: A Photographic History of Jewish Life in Poland, 1864–1939 (with Lucjan Dobroszycki); and They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust (with Mayer Kirshenblatt), among other publications.
Gil Hochberg is Ransford Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, and Middle East Studies at Columbia University. She is the author of In Spite of Partition: Jews, Arabs, and the Limits of Separatist Imagination; and, most recently, Visual Occupations: Vision and Visibility in a Conflict Zone, among other published works.
Oluremi C. Onabanjo is a curator and scholar of photography and the arts of Africa based in New York City. She is a PhD student in Art History at Columbia University and Visiting Critic in the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania. She has contributed to catalogues and photo books published by the American Federation of Arts, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and The Walther Collection, among others.
Jack Halberstam is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and Director of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Columbia University. Halberstam’s recent publications include Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal; The Queer Art of Failure; and In A Queer Time and Place, among other works.