The Visual Past

curated by Emily Neumeier and Ünver Rüstem

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"The Visual Past” showcases the latest research by scholars who explore the visual, spatial, and material culture that shaped the Ottoman world. The series will address not only objects, images, and calligraphy, but also works of architecture that were themselves contexts for other media. Before being designated historical landmarks or enshrined in museum displays, these rich artistic and architectural products constituted an intrinsic part of Ottoman life, intersecting with and affecting all levels of society. Episodes in this series investigate crucial issues about sight and seeing in the Ottoman Empire, including the power of the gaze, the depiction of human and animal imagery, and questions of style, aesthetics, and patronage. The series also explores transformations in technology that opened up new possibilities during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries for the popular dissemination of images through photographs, print media, and film.

Currently our series contains 27 podcast episodes featuring 35 contributors available for play or download through our podcast feeds. Let us know what you'd like to hear next!

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Throughout the last several decades, art historians have been shifting their efforts away from the more traditional large-scale survey works that chart the formal evolution of artistic styles. Rather, these scholars are embracing the fields of cultural studies and social history, combining the tools of visual and spatial analysis with textual sources to discover the cultural and political meanings associated with a particular object or architectural monument. In the same vein, all of the episodes in this series collectively seek to bring a critical perspective to the visual culture of the Ottoman world, approaching paintings, photographs, maps, buildings, etc. as constructed objects that can be “read” and analyzed like any other document. What were the various roles that the patron, artist, and craftsman played in the creation of an object or building? Where and how were objects encountered, exchanged, or moved from one location to another? In what ways could access to particular objects or spaces be controlled or restricted? Although the content covered here spans a broad range of time and media, all of our guests ultimately concern themselves with such questions about how the Ottomans engaged their material world.
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The Built Environment
Experiencing Ottoman Architecture

Manuscript Painting and the Calligraphic Arts
Ottoman Visual Aesthetics

Visualizing the World
Mapping and the Depiction of Ottoman Space

Camera Ottomana
Photography and Cinema in the late Ottoman Empire

Art on the Move
The Migration of Artists, Objects, and Buildings

Visions of the Nation
Modernity, Art, and Politics

Branding and Image Power
The Politics of Visual Representation




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