Photographic Medias’ Origins in Racialized Cosmology (1608-1860)
117 Pleasant St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
The 2023 Samuel Russell Endowed Chair Lecture will feature a talk by Professor Christophe Wall-Romana from the Department of French & Italian.
This talk samples analyses from a book project titled Imaging the Unseen: Space, Race and Visualization in the Emergence of Photocinema (1600-1900). The book argues that photography and cinema did not devolve from a drive to reproduce the visible world but rather from wanting to visualize or make visible what cannot be seen. That rubric entangled remarkably closely cosmology, the physics of light, and racial variations around the planet—more specifically the etiology of Blackness which obsessed the white episteme in the age of the transatlantic slave trade. Lord Henry Brougham and astronomer François Arago were the architects of abolition legislation in England (1833) and France (1848), and each conducted proto-photography research in 1796 and 1821 respectively. What lies behind this perplexing correlation?
This event is free and open to the public. Reception to follow.
The Samuel Russell Chair is made possible through a generous gift from Jim and Teddy Gesell in honor of their fathers.
Christophe Wall-Romana is professor and Samuel Russell Chair in the Humanities in the Department of French and Italian at the University of Minnesota. His research focuses on poetry, philosophy, cinema, and media archaeology. He is the author of Cinepoetry: Imaginary Cinemas in French Poetry (Fordham 2012), and Jean Epstein: Film Philosophy and Corporeal Cinema (Manchester 2013). He has also translated books by Judy Blume, Philip K. Dick, Norbert Wiener, W. S. Merwin, and Jean Epstein. His co-translation with Joe Hughes of Gilbert Simondon’s Imagination and Invention was recently published from University of Minnesota Press where his manuscript of Imaging the Unseen is under consideration.