The Toronto Photography Seminar is a group of scholars and curators from Ontario institutions who have been meeting regularly since 2004 to read, produce, and edit collaborative research concerning the history and theory of photography. Our meetings focus on discussing a set of common readings; reading and ‘workshopping’ the papers of group members on the topic of photography; and collaborating on an annual research publication. We range in scholarly focus from contemporary art to the history of corporate public relations imagery; in geographical focus from North America to South Asia; and in disciplinary background from cultural history to media studies and art history. Our common research concern, however, has been the history, theory, and interpretation of photographic media in global circulation. 

Our group also workshops the papers of colleagues from other universities, who also present a second aspect of their work in a public forum. Guests have included Ariella Azoulay, John Tagg, Carol Payne, John O’Brian, Laura Wexler, Shawn Michelle Smith, Clément Cheroux, Roberto Tejada, Peggy Phalen, Mark Haworth-Booth, Carol Mavor, and Martin Berger, among others.

We have collaborated on a guest issue on “circulation” for the History of Photography journal (guest editors, Matthew Brower and Thy Phu, summer 2008); on a guest issue on “affecting photographies” for Photography and Culture (guest editors, Thy Phu and Linda Steer, Nov. 2009); sponsored a conference at the University of Toronto entitled “Feeling Photography”; and co-edited a collection on this theme, published by Duke University in 2014, co-edited by Elspeth Brown and Thy Phu. 

We have also organized several workshops on conferences. In addition to “Feeling Photography,” these have included “Cold War Camera” (main organizers: Thy Phu and Andrea Noble, February 2014, Guatemala City); “The Optical Unconscious” (main organizers: Sharon Sliwiniski and Shawn Michelle Smith, September 2013, Toronto); “The Photographic Situation” (September 2012, Toronto).

Our work has been funded by York University (faculty development grant) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (International Opportunities Fund, 2008-09; Aid to Conferences and Workshops, 2009-10; Partnership Development Grant, 2011-2014.

Our seminar is currently full at 14 members. 

For further information, please contact us at info@torontophotographyseminar.org

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