Critics passing judgment, clergy seeking converts, advertisers selling products, and politicians running for office are all in the persuasion business. Persuasion is the key to the art of rhetoric, but there has always been a material dimension to persuasion as well.

Objects are vehicles of persuasion. We are persuaded to purchase and consume objects, and we use them to persuade others, to mediate the identities we put forth, and our interactions with each other. The roles of persuasive objects change over time as they pass from hand to hand. The mutable relationships between material objects, people, and desire are powerful, tantalizing subjects of study. So how does persuasion factor into these fluid equations? Makers, buyers, and users all have unique perspectives on the art of persuasion, as well as unspoken intentions that are constantly at work beneath the surface. Some of these intentions may be deceptive – persuasion can have a dark side. Finally, persuasion rests upon various types of evidence – what must we see in order to believe?

Graduate students from diverse fields will be discussing the above questions through a variety of lenses at the Bard Graduate Center located at 38 West 86thStreet (between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West) on Friday April 23. Breakfast and coffee will be served beginning at 9:00am, the talks will commence at 9:30am. Below is a list of the speakers. We invite scholars from all fields to attend the lecture.

Materials of Persuasion, Graduate Student Symposium Flyer (PDF)


Grace Ong-Yan
University of Pennsylvania, Graduate Program in Architecture
“From wrapping leftovers to modern architecture: Persuasion Strategies of Aluminum”

Dean Lampros
Boston University, American and New England Studies Program
“Mansions as Marketing: The Fashioning of Self Image and the Sale of Luxury Goods by the American Funeral Industry, 1920-1980”

Maria Shevzov
Winterthur Program in American Material Culture
“Marketing Homespun as Modern: Rabun Studios, 1936-1958”

Alexandra Oliver
University of Pittsburgh, History of Art and Architecture
“Capturing Socialist Style: fashion photography in East Germany”

Karin Jones
University of Missouri, Art History
“The Exotic and The Emphatic: Decorative Arts and the Colonial Section of the Exposition Internationale de Bruxelles, 1897”

Nicholas Genau
University of Virginia, History of Art and Architecture
“A Persuasion of Victory: Calixtus II and Spolia at Santa Maria in Cosmedin”

Everett Kramer
New York University, Draper Interdisciplinary Masters in Humanities and Social Thought
“An Arsenal of Teapots”

Keynote Speaker:
Tim Burke
Professor of History, Swarthmore College