The Columns

Art Historian, Critic and Writer James Elkins to Lecture in Questioning Passion Series

— by on October 2nd, 2015

James Elkins, the E.C. Chadbourne Professor of Art History, Theory and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, will lecture as part of the Questioning Passion series at Washington and Lee University on Oct. 22 at 4:30 p.m. at the Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons.

The title of Elkins’ talk is “Writing About Intense Encounters with Artworks: Some Thoughts on Immersion, Absorption, Passion, Emotion, Affect, Feeling and the Sublime.” The event is free and open to the public.

The recent work of James Elkins raises serious questions about the place passion and passionate response might or might not have in a university classroom in general and, more particularly, in a critical discussion of artwork.

In the past, Elkins has written on art and non-art images; publications include, “What Photography Is” (2011); “Six Stories from the End of Representation: Images in Painting, Photography, Microscopy, Astronomy, Particle Physics, and Quantum Mechanics, 1985-2000” (2008); and “What Happened to Art Criticism?” (2004).

He edited two book series for Routledge: “The Art Seminar” (conversations on different subjects in art theory) and “Theories of Modernism and Postmodernism in the Visual Arts” (short monographs on the shape of the 20th century). He is organizing a seven-year series called the Stone Summer Theory Institute.

‘What Photography Is’ is experimental nonfiction,” Elkins said. “Beginning in 2011, impelled by the general lack of experimental writing in art history, I rearranged my schedule to concentrate on writing a novel with images. My current book projects should be complete by fall 2015. After that my principal focus will be the novel, whose working title is ‘A Journey.’”

Elkins received his B.A. from Cornell University and his M.F.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.