Center for the Humanities
Monday Night Lecture Series
Andrew W. Mellon Post-doctoral fellow
“Chronopolitics of Nineteenth-Century Displays of Difference”
Monday, September 17, 6:00 pm
The nineteenth-century exhibitionary circuit thoroughly incorporated Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution, and various conflicted interpretations of them, into a variety of sites including nationally endowed art and science museums, world’s fairs, dime museums, and aquariums. Exhibitions in the 1800s commonly featured what I call displays of difference, or the staging of people as abnormal and exotic Others in contrast to a putatively normal public. Such presentations of the live body were often invitations for white citizens to make sense of colonial relationships, racial differences, new injuries caused by war and industry, and the role of science in culture.
This lecture focuses on how temporality, typology, and telos converged in displays of difference to engender a conflicted, violent semiotic alchemy that provoked political struggle and social death.