Bard Graduate Center Logo
  Event Banner Image

Elizabeth Guffey
Professor of Art and Design History, SUNY Purchase
BGC Research Fellow, September–December 2020

“Probing Design Equity and Inclusiveness”

Part 1, Decentering Whiteness in Design History
Extending this year’s research theme “how do we know,” this pop-up seminar asks how do we create resources to help scholars teach about race and ethnicity in design history? This seminar will be a dialog with Victoria Pass from Decentering Whiteness in Design History Resources ( The latter effort is a document open for contributions from anyone interested in sharing resources that they have consulted or assigned in teaching design history. In the pop-up seminar we will discuss the origins of the project, as well as the challenges and opportunities that emerge as scholars build resources for teaching race and ethnicity in design history.
Thursday, October 15, 12:15–1:15 pm

Part 2, Design for One: Post Universal Design and the New Normal
Who is the world designed for? How do we know what is “normal” in design? The Civil Rights Movement, feminism, gender theory, critical race studies, and “Critical Disability Studies,” an academic discipline developing in the last two decades and in the US often associated with the so-called ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) generation, is pushing us to reconsider design for access and the very idea of “normalcy.” It seems that design for inclusiveness is itself in the midst of a paradigm shift, but the expansion of design for disability has been so rapid and multifaceted that it is raising unsettling new questions—and answers for the larger field. This talk will examine the growth of “Design for One” as it relates to a shifting focus away from Universal Design and towards a newer definition of inclusive design.
Thursday, October 22, 12:15–1:15 pm

Part 3, Degas’ Eyeglasses, Renoir’s Wheelchair, and Other Impressionist Legends: Cripping Late Nineteenth-Century Material Culture
The history of French Impressionist art is filled with legends about its most famous practitioners, their bodily impairments, and the ways these were believed to have shaped their art. Degas was going blind and had to wear special glasses. Renoir became so arthritic, he used a wheelchair and had paintbrushes strapped to his wrists. What do these narratives and the eyeglasses, wheelchairs, and other artifacts now enshrined in art museums tell us about how we have understood the history of Impressionism? Modernity? And our understanding of disability then and now?
Thursday, October 29, 12:15–1:15 pm

Register Button

A Zoom link will be circulated the morning of each session.