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Research programming is a major component of intellectual life at Bard Graduate Center. Organized by our faculty, the seminars, lectures, and symposia scheduled throughout the semester broaden our curricular vision and help further the institution’s goal of promoting research in the areas of decorative arts, design history, and material culture—what we call the “cultural history of the material world.” Advance registration is strongly encouraged. Please click through for full descriptions and to register.


Fashioning Race Through Metalwork in French Sugar Casters

Sarah R. Cohen
Professor of Art History, University at Albany, SUNY

Three extant pairs of French sugar casters, all fashioned through various forms of luxury metalwork, present numerous problems of interpretation regarding questions of elite dining fashions, artisanal practices, and constructions of racial identity. All of the sets of casters feature figures bearing large bunches of sugar cane cast in silver; each bundle is fashioned so that highly refined, white powdered sugar can be sprinkled from holes punched through the tops of the individual stalks of cane. The figures themselves differ markedly in physiognomy, dress, and attitude: the earliest pair, fashioned in silver for Louis-Henri, duc de Bourbon, in the 1730s, feature an “African” man and woman dressed in “American” costumes inspired by travel literature. The two later sets, by contrast, feature “Chinese” boys cast in either bronze or silver and completely painted to create dark-skinned laborers in lavish Chinoiserie garments. How can we account for these eclectic and variable table ornaments? In this talk Cohen will examine their implications in light of changing conceptions of race in eighteenth-century France, in the context of global commerce, sugar production, and slavery.

Tuesday, March 17, 6–7:30 pm
38 West 86th Street, Lecture Hall

Françoise and Georges Selz Lectures on Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century French Decorative Arts and Culture

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BGCTV Logo BGCTV This event will be livestreamed. A link to the video will be posted to the event listing the day of the talk.

Blackface Harlequins and Other Challenges of New Museology

Sequoia Miller (BGC MA ’12)
Chief Curator, Gardiner Museum

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Book Launch—The Art of the Jewish Family

Author Laura Leibman in conversation with Jonathan Sarna and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, moderated by Dean Peter N. Miller, to celebrate the publication of The Art of the Jewish Family: A History of Women in Early New York in Five Objects.

Monday, March 23, 6–7:30 pm 
38 West 86th Street, Lecture Hall

This book was published with generous support from the Leon Levy Foundation, the David Berg Foundation, and donors to Bard Graduate Center.

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Do Baskets Speak? Creating Afterlives of an Archaeological Project at Neolithic Çatalhöyük

Ruth Tringham
Professor of the Graduate School (Anthropology), University of California, Berkeley

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BGCTV Logo BGCTV This event will be livestreamed. A link to the video will be posted to the event listing the day of the talk.