University of Rochester

EVENT: Graduate Conference Considers the Concept of Doubt

March 12, 2003

In the current climate that challenges voices of dissent, graduate students from the United States and Canada will meet at the University of Rochester on Saturday, April 5, to explore the theme of doubt in visual and cultural contexts.

"Casting Doubt," an interdisciplinary conference organized by the Program in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester, brings together students and cultural theorists from various disciplines and institutions to discuss "the relationships of doubting as a lived reality, an historical moment, a liminal state, a political position, and an ethical imperative," says organizer Leanne Gilbertson of the VCS program at Rochester. All sessions from 8:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. are free and open to the public.

The program's keynote speaker is Eduardo Cadava, associate professor of English at Princeton University. At 1:15 p.m., he will lecture on "Palm Reading: Fazal Sheikh's Handbook of Death" as he considers a series of photographs by the New York-born Pakistani. Cadava is currently writing a collection of essays on mourning and nationalism, for which he has received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He also is an associate member of the Department of Comparative Literature and the School of Architecture at Princeton.

In other sessions, graduate students will present papers addressing the theme of doubt from a range of perspectives. "We want to pry open and discover spaces of doubt in an effort to collectively consider their multiple meaning, modes, aesthetics, and impacts," explains Gilbertson.

As the first graduate program of its kind in the country, the Program in Visual and Cultural Studies uses an interdisciplinary approach through the humanities, arts, and social sciences to understand visual culture.

The conference is co-sponsored by these departments, programs, and student organizations at the University of Rochester: Anthropology, Art and Art History, English, Film and Media Studies, Global Studies Cluster, History, Modern Languages and Cultures, the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies, the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women's Studies, Amnesty International, the Graduate Organizing Group, and Student Activities.

The keynote address and all conference panel discussions will be held in Hoyt Hall on the University's River Campus. A reception will follow the conference at 6 p.m. at the Hartnett Gallery in Wilson Commons. The program is free and open to the public; no registration is required.

For a complete schedule of events, visit the conference Web site at For more information or to request special accommodations, contact the conference organizers at (585) 275-9249 or e-mail