Past Event

POSTPONED: Bettman Lecture Series: Mary Roberts, “Benjamin, Poe and the Rank Orient of the Nineteenth-Century Interior”

March 29, 2021
6:15 PM
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PLEASE NOTE: This event has been rescheduled for the fall at the request of the speaker in support of the Graduate Workers of Columbia strike.

Orientalist interiors were entangled with the avant-garde’s anxious articulation of modernity, from Edgar Allan Poe to Filippo Marinetti in his “Futurist Manifesto.” Søren Kierkegaard, Walter Benjamin, and Theodor Adorno each invoked orientalist interiors as foundational metaphors for the modern subject. So, too, do these spaces belong to a history of Islamic art, embedded in networks of global modernity. This lecture establishes that nineteenth-century orientalist interiors were transcultural sites and lived spaces, but also modern aesthetic propositions that were often self-consciously conceived as contemporary works of art. It excavates the decisive place of the orientalist interior in modern art and literature and poses the question: why has art history underestimated these potent thresholds?

This event will take place on March 29, 2021 as a live Webinar at 6:15pm ET (New York time). Only registered attendees will be able to access this event.

Mary Roberts is the John Schaeffer Professor of Art History at the University of Sydney. She studies nineteenth-century European Orientalist and modern Ottoman art, with particular interest in artistic exchanges, histories of collecting, and the various ways in which Orientalist images are mediated in paintings, travelogues, interiors, and news media. Her work lies at the intersection of modernism and Orientalism, and pursues the global networks that inform nineteenth-century European and Islamic art. Her book, Istanbul Exchanges: Ottomans, Orientalists and Nineteenth-Century Visual Culture (University of California Press, 2015), was awarded the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand’s Book Prize and later translated into Turkish (Türkiye İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları, 2016). Her first book, Intimate Outsiders: The Harem in Ottoman and Orientalist Art and Travel Literature, was published by Duke University Press in 2007. She has co-edited four other books, including The Poetics and Politics of Place: Ottoman Istanbul and British Orientalism (Pera Museum, Istanbul, 2011), Edges of Empire (Blackwell’s, 2005), Orientalism’s Interlocutors (Duke, 2002), and Refracting Visions: Essays on the Writings of Michael Fried (Power, 2000). She has been a Getty Scholar, CASVA Senior Fellow, Yale Center for British Art Fellow, and Clark-Oakley Fellow. Her next book, Four Thresholds: Orientalist Interiors, Islamic Art, the Aesthetics of Global Modernities, focuses on artists as collectors of Islamic art.