Author Archive

Photography as Poetic Language in Emblems of a Passing World

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Adam Kirsch’s 2015 collection, built on the photographs of August Sander, amplifies the tension between the social and the individual through a remarkable cross-talk between photograph and poetic text.

Photography’s Eternal Returns

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Do photographs of war provide some intervention into the violence they depict? If they do not stop violence, what purpose do they serve? These two questions are at the heart of recent work by Teju Cole and older work by Susan Sontag.

Oliver Sacks and the Narratives of Disability

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Oliver Sacks recognized that stories have a closer connection to the full complexity of the human condition than science. Nine years after the birth of my daughter, however, I realized that most existing narratives tell us more about cultural misconceptions of Down syndrome than providing a full, complex picture

Visual and Literary Representation in White on White

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Ayşegül Savas’s 2021 novel is less an act of purification than a challenge to the reader to accept art on its own terms as an achievement of presence. It frames each reading, each act of looking, as an act of faith.

The Afterlife of History

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By taking the imperialist Cecil John Rhodes and his readers through a history of Africa and its diaspora, Adekeye Adebajo interrogates Eurocentric history and what it chooses to suppress.

Activism in Exile

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Gisèle Freund’s portraits, shown at the Maison des amis des livres in 1939, of several avant-garde writers and artists, are a collective portrait of a community, rather than a series of individuals. This group of intellectuals, however, would be scattered by the invasion of Paris by the Nazis one

The World Will Be Tlön

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"I recalled Jorge Luis Borges’s ‘Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius’ when trying to make sense of my daughter’s intellectual disability as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Like Orbis Tertius, the DSM seemed to me like a product of a secret society gradually working to shape