Symposium: The Body as Object: The Human as Material Culture

The Body as Object: The Human as Material Culture

1 May 2009, Telus Centre, University of Alberta, Edmonton Canada; 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (8:30 a.m. registration).
Cost: $30 / $15 (concessions). Lunch and refreshments included.
Register at:

The Material Culture Institute’s 3rd Annual Symposium investigates human bodies in relation to the material world. Please join us for a day of exciting and thought-provoking discussion concerning how bodies may be perceived as objects!

Speakers & topics:

Susie Orbach:
How do we get a body?
Susie Orbach’s books, Fat is a Feminist Issue, Hunger Strike, The Impossibility of Sex, and most recently, Bodies, are internationally-renowned as ground-breaking discussions of how femininity, gender, and body image are constructed. A psychoanalyst and writer, Susie Orbach is currently Visiting Scholar at the New School for Social Research, New York and has been a Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics, as well as a consultant to the World Bank, Unilever, and the UK’s National Health Service.

Becky Conekin:
Pretty Hard Work: Professional Fashion Modeling in London & Paris, 1947-1967
Historian of culture and identity in the 20th century and Senior Research Fellow at the London College of Fashion, Dr. Conekin has explored fashion in the context of modernity through work on Vogue Magazine, and the artist, photographer, and model, Lee Miller. Her current research will lead to the publication ‘Model Girls’ in 1950s London & Paris: Gendered identities and employment. Becky Conekin's other publications include contributions to the book, Fashion as Photograph, to the journal, Fashion Theory, and to the Journal for the Study of British Cultures.

Ben Barry
Why reflect reality? Ideal and ‘real’ models in fashion advertising
Entrepreneur Ben Barry, CEO of Ben Barry Agency, a Toronto-based model consultancy, has a long-standing interest in the use of ‘real’ models in fashion. Currently a PhD candidate at Cambridge University, Ben Barry has written Fashioning Reality: A new generation of entrepreneurship, and was a business columnist for the Globe and Mail newspaper. As well as being featured in a diverse range of media - from the Oprah TV show to The Financial Times newspaper - he has been honoured with a Governor General’s Award for his leadership in advancing the equality of Canadian girls and women.

Jörg Scheller
It’s the Arts! The body as an object of artistic expression
Through considering the body as a site for aesthetic freedom, Jörg Scheller explores how humans act as ‘body-artists’ as they design themselves according to individual desires and through modifications such as plastic surgery, bodybuilding, tattoos and piercings. With a background in Art History, Philosophy, Media Art and English Philology, Jörg Scheller is currently a doctoral candidate in the graduate school of Image-Body-Medium at the University of Arts and Design Karlsruhe.

Lianne McTavish
The Embryo as a Modern Object
Professor in the History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture at the UofA, Dr. McTavish’s interdisciplinary research centres on early modern French medical imagery, and representations of cure and convalescence in France, 1600-1800. Her work includes the book, Childbirth and the Display of Authority in Early Modern France, and articles in Social History of Medicine and Medical History. Lianne McTavish is also an established scholar of museums, with publications in New Museum Theory and Practice: An introduction and the journal, Cultural Studies.

Pirkko Markula
‘Sculpt Your Body with a Killer Workout’: Exercise as a technique of body management
Professor of socio-cultural studies of sport and physical activity at the UofA, Dr. Markula studies dance, exercise and sport through the lenses of critical cultural studies, the work of theorists such as Foucault, Derrida, and Deleuze, and a range of interdisciplinary, qualitative methods including autoethnography and performance ethnography.

Pirkko Markula’s research has been featured in Sociology of Sport Journal, Journal of Sport & Social Issues, and Qualitative Inquiry. She is co-author of Foucault, Sport and Exercise: Power, knowledge and transforming the self and co-editor of Critical Bodies: Representations, identities and practices of weight and body management.

Come visit me in Edmonton, and learn about material culture!! Feel free to re-post wherever appropriate.


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