School of Historical Studies

Our Words, and Theirs: A Reflection on the Historian's Craft, Today

Carlo Ginzburg
Professor Emeritus, University of California, Los Angeles
October 3, 2011

What is the relationship between the idiom of the observer (historian, anthropologist) and the idiom of the actors, dead or alive? This question, which has been addressed from widely different (and usually unrelated) points of view, provides an oblique approach to the cognitive, moral, and political implications of the historian’s craft today.

Panel Discussion: Secularism and Human Rights: Basic Human Rights in History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology

Moderator: Harold Shapiro, President Emeritus and Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, Princeton University
Trustee, Institute for Advanced Study
November 13, 2010

Panelists:
Didier Fassin, James D. Wolfensohn Professor, School of Social Science
Jonathan Israel, Professor, School of Historical Studies
Avishai Margalit, George F. Kennan Professor, School of Historical Studies
Joan Wallach Scott, Harold F. Linder Professor, School of Social Science

The Audience as Prisoner: Reflections on the Activity of the Object

Horst Bredekamp
Professor of Art History, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
March 2, 2010

The basic problem of all pictures is grounded in their bipolar existence. They are created objects, but nonetheless present themselves as physical beings. This paradoxical double-structure is exemplified in the “ME FECIT” of numberless inscriptions. With its “EGO,” the pictorial work declares that it does not consist of artificially shaped dead material, but of a living form. Dramatizing this problem, Leonardo da Vinci created the formula that pictures “imprison” the audience.

In this lecture Horst Bredekamp follows a chain of examples from antiquity, the Middle Ages, early modernity, and the twentieth century in order to question the traditional concept of the relationship between the work of art and the beholder. conceptualizing the theory of picture-act, which tries to develop alternatives to traditional concepts of representation, illustration, and mimesis.