Graduate Research Seminar

On Monday 30 November, Ellie Chan (PhD in History of Art) will deliver the fourth and final of the Michaelmas Term Graduate Research seminars with a talk entitled "Style and the stylus: Why etymology matters in art".

Traditional accounts of the history of art have conditioned us to think of its development in terms of style. This narrative provides us with an endless progression from the ‘primitive’ and the ‘unsuccessful attempts at realism’ towards the modern and ‘abstract’, driven by the rise of theory (such as the Kantian aesthetic). Art objects are reduced to what can be fitted into the boundary of a ‘type’. This paper will return the concept of ‘style’ to its etymological roots in the word ‘stylus’ - the pen, pencil, brush or burin which shapes the art object itself - and in so doing will demonstrate that the question of style is far less theoretical, and far more implicated in practice, than is commonly understood.

The graduate research seminar provides an opportunity for our graduate students and research fellows to discuss their work before an astute and very friendly audience. Because this mixed audience includes not only expert insiders, but also intelligent and interested outsiders, this is also an opportunity for speakers to hone their communicative skills, and for the rest of us to be exposed to unfamiliar problems, methodologies and theories.

Meetings begin at 12:45 in the Senior Combination Room, where a free buffet lunch is provided. The speakers kick off at 1:00, and finish by 1:30, giving us a quarter of an hour for questions and discussion.