Photography Scholars and Critics Debate "The Meaning Of Photography" November 19 at Clark Public Symposium

For Immediate Release

November 04, 2005

Preeminent scholars and critics in the field of photography will gather at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute on Saturday, November 19 for “The Meaning of Photography,” a Clark Symposium open to the public. The symposium has been organized by the Clark’s Research and Academic Program and is convened by Robin Kelsey of Harvard University and Blake Stimson of the University of California at Davis. It takes place from 9 am to 5:30 pm. Cost is $25, $15 for students and members of the Clark, and free for Williams College students and faculty. For reservations by phone, call 413-458-0524. A registration form and additional information can be found under Research and Academic Program on the Clark’s website,

In recent years interest in the history of photography has grown enormously, and it is now part of many art history and visual studies programs. But are the histories of photographs to be written like the histories of paintings or sculptures or etchings, or, if not, how might we write them? Do different kinds of photographs demand different methods or does this assumption itself already dilute the authority of interpretation and the significance of the object? Should photography even be held apart as a discrete historical category?

This symposium will bring together distinguished historians and critics Jonathan Crary of the University of Columbia, Doug Nickel of the Center for Creative Photography, Geoffrey Batchen of the City University of New York, Sally Stein of the University of California at Irvine, Mary Ann Doane of Brown University, Benjamin Buchloh of Harvard University, in addition to Kelsey and Stimson, to tackle these issues and discuss the current state of the history of photography as a field. During the lunch break, attendees will have the chance to view some of the most important objects in the Clark’s significant and growing collection of early photographs.

Following the symposium, a reception will be held at the Williams College Museum of Art, affording attendees a chance to view highlights of WCMA’s rich and diverse photography collection.

The Clark is one of the country’s foremost art museums, as well as a dynamic center for research and higher education in art history and criticism. The institute is one of only a few art museums in the U.S. that is also a major research and academic center, with an international fellowship program and regular conferences, symposia, and colloquia, and an important art research library. The Clark, together with Williams College, jointly sponsors one of the nation’s leading M.A. programs in art history, which has been part of the professional development of a significant number of directors of art museums, curators, and scholars.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (daily in July and August). Admission is free November through May (admission June 1 through October 31 is $10 for adults, free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID). For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit


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