Embodied Acts and American Photographs

Embodied Acts and American Photographs

Organized by Dr. Johanna Hartmann (MLU Halle-Wittenberg)

June 30 – July 2, 2022, online

The international and interdisciplinary conference “Embodied Acts and American Photographs” takes the complex relationship between embodied acts and American photographs as a starting point. Building on the existing state of research, this conference project seeks to systematically explore how the interrelation between embodied acts and American photographs of the 20th and 21st century shape processes of cultural signification – including aesthetic, epistemological, and ethical consequences and with relevance for our understanding of the past, the present, even extending into the future.

Fusco for example claims that “[n]o other means of representing human likeness has been used more systematically to describe and formulate American identity than photography. Envisioning and exhibiting the American self has been a photographic venture since the inception of the medium. It is an ongoing social, cultural, and political project” (Fusco 35). That said, embodied acts and American photographs are related in multiple ways: Yes, embodied acts can be captured in photographs. In addition, embodied acts are also central for the production of photographs. Furthermore, our engagement with photographs in the form of cultural-specific “practices of looking” (cf. Sturken and Cartwright, Silverman) as well as what Solomon-Godeau calls “photographic uses” will be understood here as embodied acts, for example inserting photographs in new contexts and discourses, practices of exhibiting, curating, or collecting photographs.

While the conference “Embodied Acts and American Photographs” focuses on photographs as a central source in the field of American studies, the research question of this conference – how do embodied acts shape our engagement with and interpretation of photographs and vice versa? – can only be answered from an interdisciplinary perspective.

This conference therefore brings together scholars from various disciplines and establishes a conversation between them: American studies, visual culture studies, philosophy, phenomenology, cognitive cultural studies, theater and performance studies, media studies, and art history. By including contemporary methodologies such as postcolonialism, ecocriticism, gender and queer studies, cultural memory, and many others, and by interrelating scholarly and practical considerations, this conference attempts to complicate existing approaches and situate them in their broader socio-cultural contexts.

Works Cited
Fusco, Coco. “Racial Time, Racial Marks, Racial Metaphors.” Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self, edited by Coco Fusco and Brian Wallis, Abrams, 2003, pp. 13–40.
Silverman, Kaja. The Miracle of Analogy, or, The History of Photography, Stanford UP, 2015.
Solomon-Godeau, Abigail. “Introduction.” Photography at the Dock: Essays on Photographic History, Institutions, and Practices, U of Minnesota P, 2009, pp. xxi–xxxiv.
Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture, Oxford UP, 2003.


Please click here to download the conference program and here for the conference brochure.

Sponsored by:





This is a digital event and will be held via WebEx.

In order to participate at this conference please send an e-mail to and you will be provided with the conference link briefly before the conference.



Dr. Johanna Hartmann

Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg