The Panel

The Matter of Writing Panel Discussion
March 7, 2013
1 pm-6 pm


schedule postcard copy2

Peter Galison


Peter Galison is Joseph Pellegrino University Professor the Department of History of Science at Harvard University, and Director of its Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments.

In 1997, Peter Galison was named a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow; in 1999, he was a winner of the Max Planck Prize given by the Max Planck Gesellschaft and Humboldt Stiftung.

Galison is interested in the intersection of philosophical and historical questions such as these: What, at a given time, convinces people that an experiment is correct? How do scientific subcultures form interlanguages of theory and things at their borders?

More broadly, Galison’s main work explores the complex interaction between the three principal subcultures of twentieth century physics–experimentation, instrumentation, and theory. The volume on experiment, How Experiments End (University of Chicago Press, 1987), and that on instruments, Image and Logic (University of Chicago Press, 1997), are to be followed by the final volume, “Building, Crashing, Thinking,” that is still under construction. Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps (W.W. Norton, 2003) begins the study of theory by focusing on the ways in which the theory of relativity stood at the crossroads of technology, philosophy, and physics. Image & Logic won the Pfizer Award from the History of Science Society in October 1998.

In addition, Galison has launched several projects examining the powerful cross-currents between science and other fields. His book (with Lorraine Daston), Objectivity (Zone Books, 2007) asks how visual representation shaped the concept of scientific objectivity, and how atlases of scientific images continue, even today, to rework what counts as right depiction. Further work on the boundary between science and other fields includes his co-edited volumes on the relations between science, art and architecture, The Architecture of Science (MIT Press, 1999; ed. with Emily Thompson) and Picturing Science, Producing Art (Routledge, 1998; ed. with Caroline Jones), as well as Big Science: The Growth of Large-Scale Research (Stanford University Press, 1992; ed. with Bruce Hevly), The Disunity of Science: Boundaries, Contexts, and Power (Stanford University Press, 1996; ed. with David J. Stump), Atmospheric Flight in the Twentieth Century (Kluwer, 2000; ed. with Alex Roland), Scientific Authorship: Credit and Intellectual Property in Science (Routledge, 2003; ed. with Mario Biagioli), and Einstein for the 21st Century: His Legacy in Science, Art, and Modern Culture (Princeton University Press, 2008; ed. with Gerald Holton and Silvan S. Schweber).

Michael Ann Holly


Michael Ann Holly is an American art historian renowned for her work on historiography and the theory of art history. She received her doctorate from Cornell in 1981 and co-founded the Visual and Cultural Studies Graduate Program at the University of Rochester, where she taught for 13 years. Holly served as the Starr Director of the Research and Academic Program at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Her books include Panofsky and the Foundations of Art History (1984), Visual Culture: Images and Interpretations (1994), Past Looking: Historical Imagination and the Rhetoric of Images (1996), The Subjects of Art History: Historical Objects in Contemporary Perspective (1998), Art History, Aesthetics, Visual Studies (2002), What is Research in the Visual Arts? Obsession, Archive, Encounter (2008), and The Melancholy Art (2013).


Alexander Nemerov

Alexander Nemerov, American Art History specialistA scholar of American art, Nemerov writes about the presence of art, the recollection of the past, and the importance of the humanities in our lives today. Committed to teaching the history of art more broadly as well as topics in American visual culture–the history of American photography, for example–he is a noted writer and speaker on the arts. His most recent books are To Make a World: George Ault and 1940s America (2011), the catalogue to the exhibition of the same title he curated at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and Acting in the Night: Macbeth and the Places of the Civil War (2010). His new book, Wartime Kiss: Visions of the Moment in the 1940s, was published by Princeton University Press this fall.



Lisa Robertson

lisa-robertsonPoet Lisa Robertson was born in Toronto in 1961. She lived for many years in Vancouver, where she studied at Simon Fraser University, ran an independent bookstore, and was a collective member of the Kootenay School of Writing, a writer-run center for writing, publishing, and scholarship. While in Vancouver, Robertson was also involved in Artspeak Gallery, an alternative gallery that connects the visual arts and writing; she is an honorary member of their board of directors.

Robertson is known for working in book-length projects. Her subject matter includes political themes, such as gender and nation, as well as the problems of form and genre; she has written works that explore literary forms such as the pastoral, epic, and weather forecast. Her books of poetry include XEclogue (1993); Debbie: An Epic(1997), nominated for a Governor General’s Award; The Weather (2001), which Robertson wrote during her Judith E. Wilson fellowship at Cambridge University;The Men (2006); and R’s Boat (2010). Her architectural essays are collected in Occasional Works and Seven Walks from the Office for Soft Architecture(revised ed. 2010), and she has published a work of prose essays, Nilling (2012). Robertson has been the subject of a special issue of Chicago Review and was the Holloway poet-in-residence at the University of California-Berkeley in 2006. In 2005 she was awarded the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English.

Robertson has taught at the University of California-San Diego, Capilano College, Dartington College of Art, the California College of Art, and the University of Cambridge. She holds no degrees and has no academic affiliation, and supports herself through free-lance writing on art, architecture, astrology, interior design, and food. She currently lives in France.

Lytle Shaw


Lytle Shaw is Associate Professor of English at New York University. His work centers on twentieth- and twenty-first century poetry and art, and he is interested in how texts and art objects mediate, transform, and disrupt (rather than simply “reflect”) the cultural and social possibilities of their moments. His first critical book, Frank O’Hara: The Poetics of Coterie, mounted a defense of O’Hara’s version of coterie writing as a paradoxically progressive mode which could help to focus the limits of Habermasian models of the public sphere and contribute to theories of radical democracy. Recently his teaching and writing have explored how concepts of place and site involve similar rhetorics of immanence (and consequent possibilities as “devices”). Fieldworks: From Place to Site in Postwar Poetics (out in April, 2013) traces a history of postwar poets and artists as on-location ethnographers and historians. Recent graduate courses have included “Theorizing the Archive,” “New York Poetry and the New Left,” and “Site-Specific Poetry and Historiography.” Shaw’s teaching and writing will continue to focus on how recent poetry and art might not just relate to but in a sense become experimental versions of historicism, ethnography, documentary and landscape aesthetics.