The 2020-21 Experiencing Images: How the Visual Shapes Our World virtual speaker series will feature six distinguished speakers who explore individual and collective engagement with photography, a medium that defines visual culture. The virtual lectures will take place via Zoom and are free and open to the public. 

Through decoding this visual landscape, we become conscious of how we use images to construct identity and meaning. The lectures in this series will address themes including photography exhibitions and civic spectatorship, surveillance and the construction of race, image production and representation, and trauma and memory.

Nicholas Mirzoeff headshot
Nicholas Mirzeoff

Thursday, October 21 at 6 p.m. CST
“White Sight: Visual Politics of Whiteness” with Nicholas Mirzoeff
Zoom Event Registration Link:  

To adapt Simone de Beauvoir, one is not born but becomes white. This talk engages the persistence and continued force of white ways of seeing and making white space. Combined, these form what Mirzoeff calls “white sight.” To be white has been imagined as the apex of the supposed pyramid of the human. That is a powerful place from which to see, survey and conduct surveillance, the key practices of white sight. It is a system that has a material infrastructure, connecting ways of seeing and making space and the apparatus of government. Its material forms connect, distribute, enable, and store the set of desires and fantasies that comprise what it is to make whiteness. This talk examines how these systems work and how they might be unbuilt.

Nicholas Mirzoeff is a writer and professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University. He is a visual activist, working at the intersection of politics, race, and global/visual culture. Mirzoeff is a 2020-2021 ACLS/Mellon Scholar and Society fellow in residence at the Magnum Foundation, New York.

Read more about Nicholas Mirzoeff.

Past Speakers

John Lucaites headshot
John Lucaites

Thursday, September 23, 2021
“A Museum Without Walls: Photo Exhibitions and Civic Spectatorship” with John Lucaites

The landscape for the theory and practice of photography is changing. Robert Hariman and John Lucaites address this in The Public Image (Chicago, 2017) by arguing for an interpretive realism that would encourage the treatment of photography as a public art in support of an ethics of civic spectatorship. In his presentation, Lucaites develops that argument by drawing upon Andre Malraux’s notion of “a museum without walls” as a lens through which to examine the contemporary display of photo exhibitions as they contribute to a democratic politics.

John Louis Lucaites is a professor emeritus rhetoric and English at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. His most recent publications focus on the relationship between judgment, visuality, and public culture, including No Caption Needed: Iconic Photographs, Public Culture, and Liberal Democracy; The Public Image: Photography and Civic Spectatorship (both co-authored with Robert Hariman, U. of Chicago Press, 2016); and In/Visible War: The Culture of War in Twenty-First-Century America (co-edited with Jon Simons, Rutgers U. Press, 2017).  He is also the co-author (with Celeste Michelle Condit) of Crafting Equality: America’s Anglo-African Word (Chicago, 1993). He is the senior editor for a book series on Rhetoric, Culture, and Social Critique for the University of Alabama Press. He served as the Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University. He has received numerous awards including the National Communication Association’s Distinguished Scholar Award in 2012. 

The series is curated by Holly Filsinger, graduate student in Visual Culture. The series is hosted by Illinois State University Wonsook Kim School of Art and is supported and co-sponsored by the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, University Galleries of Illinois State University, the School of Communication, the Department of English, the Department of History, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program.

If you need a special accommodation to fully participate in this program/event, please contact Please allow sufficient time to arrange the accommodation.