Writing, teaching, exhibiting and talking about visual media in archaeology

It’s been a seriously busy couple of months as I’ve started my lectureship at York (see the official announcement here, which is mostly accurate except that VIA was funded by English Heritage…), and have begun to transition out of several of the projects that I’ve been engaged in at Southampton.  On top of that, I’ve been doing a lot of writing, some of which is already available online, and other bits that are forthcoming.

In terms of the former, Amara Thornton’s and my paper on the history of the UCL Institute of Archaeology’s photographic department and photo collections has recently been published in Archaeology International.  You can access that article here:

(2011) Collection and production: The history of the Institute of Archaeology through photography. Archaeology International 13/14:101-107.

Screenshot of a section of Thornton and Perry (2011): http://www.ai-journal.com/article/view/ai.1319/79

Along with various other visual anthropology colleagues, I was invited by the wonderful Ryan Anderson to contribute to his very impressive anthropologies project.  You can find my article here:

(2012) Fluid Fields: The (Unspoken) Intersections of Visual Anthropology and Archaeology. Anthropologies 10.

That contribution got a really nice write-up on the UVic Anthropology Department’s unofficial blog.  I feel lucky to have the support of my colleagues and friends at UVic – they are an excellent alma mater and I’m so grateful for their kind words.

I’ve also prepared a case study for a forthcoming volume – A Concise Introduction to Visual Research – by my close collaborators Jonathan Marion and Jerome Crowder; to be published by Berg.  I’ll keep you posted on the publication date for that book.

The exhibition that I’ve been helping to curate under the direction of Marius Kwint (Portsmouth U) at the Wellcome Collection has begun to see publicity.  I discussed aspects of that exhibition in my last post, and it will be accompanied by a series of public events and related resources. Note that the exhibition itself is free to attend! Here is the initial press release and a screenshot of the advert (NB. the image is a detail of a piece by the excellent artist Helen Pynor):

Screenshot (again by me) of Wellcome Collection advert for our forthcoming (free!) Brains exhibition

As for teaching, this term I’m convening the MA in Cultural Heritage Management 2: Museums, Audiences and Interpretation module.  I have a fantastic group of students whose first assignment is to be submitted next week.  I’ve asked them to critically review (in the form of a review in any standard academic periodical) the application of a type of social medium by a heritage body.  For instance, someone might choose to evaluate the blog that’s been established by the Canadian Museum of Nature.  This has been an interesting experience, in particular, because it highlights the deficiencies in the academic review process.  Not only are ‘non-traditional’ media (basically anything other than books or, in some cases, films or, in still rarer cases, exhibitions) mostly absent from the review sections of academic publications, but they’re even absent from publications that purportedly speak to those very types of media – e.g., new media journals.  I’m not surprised by this predicament, and I think it speaks to the problems of continuing to privilege standard scholarly forms of publication.  In that vein, much of the emerging research that I’d like to be central to my reading lists will be obsolete by the time that it’s finally published, so I’m guiding students to the researchers themselves or their blogs and related social media for more current and meaningful access.  One of those people is Lorna Richardson – among the few to be probing the application of Twitter to archaeology.

Anyway, I’ll keep you updated on the teaching as it progresses.  In the meantime, the next few months seem to be packed with me giving presentations.  If you have any interest in hearing about some of the projects I’ve been pursuing, my first talk of the year is actually in York – as part of the York Heritage Research Seminars – at 5.00pm, Tuesday 21 Feb, in King’s Manor K/159: Grappling with archaeological visual media across multiple institutions: Çatalhöyük, the Wellcome Collection, and UCL’s Institute of Archaeology.

Please come along!

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