Syracuse Symposium

2015 Humanities Center Spring Symposia

The SU Humanities Center Spring Symposia feature the scholarship of our resident fellows – the 2014-2015 HC Dissertation Fellows and the 2015 HC Faculty Fellows – for the benefit of the College of Arts and Sciences and participating divisions of Syracuse University. As part of their appointment, HC fellows have the unique opportunity to bring their research into conversation with faculty and students across the College, as well as outside experts and colleagues. Each year, the Humanities Center offers dissertation year fellowships to students from participating doctoral programs in the College of Arts and Sciences and annual faculty fellowships for the Spring semester from both the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. The Center also supports co-sponsored lectures and public events.

Syracuse Symposium 2014 Perspective


Today, we equate “perspective” with point-of-view. Media pundits blur opinion and fact into a white noise of competing perspectives that—perhaps ironically—obscures more than it reveals. In the fourteenth century, however, the term originated in the realm of optics, specifically a scientific means of enhancing eyesight using technologies, such as the mirror. Visual artists, from painters to architects and photographers, employ perspective to render three-dimensional objects in two-dimensional space. For them, the topic raises questions about landscape, portraiture, and the empowered (and resisting) gaze.

Some of the questions that this theme might provoke include: how has a term that once referred to the strictly visual come to have such wide meanings and applications? how does technology mediate perspective? how do we know when we have lost (or gained) perspective, both as individuals and as a society? Philosophically, far-reaching topics include not only what is seen, but what is not seen, and encompass the study of illusion and surveillance. Historians interested in race, class, and gender consider the past “from below.” In literature and the arts, perspective juxtaposes the often competing viewpoints of the author, the narrator, the interpreter and the receiver.

The 2014 Syracuse Symposium theme “perspective” lends itself to a multitude of meanings and far-reaching fields of study. In effect, its strength and power as a theme lies precisely in the broad potential of those wide-ranging possibilities.


Download the 2014 Syracuse Symposium Brochure