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Faculty of Humanities
Associate Professor Art History
PhD, SUNY Binghamton
Office: GLN 119
Telephone: (905) 688-5550 ext. 3821
Professor Steer is an art historian who teaches both in the Department of Visual Arts and in the Great Books/Liberal Studies Program at Brock University. This year, she is teaching Introduction to Western Art (VISA 1Q99), History of Photography (VISA 2P53), the GBLS Modernity Seminar (GBLS 4P10) and The Modern City as a Cultural Object (GBLS/ VISA/ HIST 4V71), a new course she designed in 2006. Using Paris from 1839-1939 as a case study, The Modern City considers the influence of the experience of the city on modern art and literature, as well as the ways in which notions of modernism and modernity contributed to the changing space of the city.
Professor Steer earned her PhD with the dissertation, "Found, Borrowed and Stolen: The Use Of Photographs in French Surrealist Reviews, 1924-1939," at Binghamton University, where she worked with Professor John Tagg. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, this work focused on the transformation of photographic meaning when nineteenth-century found photographs were published in surrealist periodicals in the early twentieth century. Her dissertation uncovered new connections between modern art and literature, the development of French scientific and cultural institutions, and the history of photography.
In general, Professor Steer's research addresses the ways in which meaning is constructed in art and visual culture, particularly through the circulation of images. In another project, she is investigating the use of avant-garde visual strategies drawn from Dada and Surrealism by a 1960s French revolutionary architecture group, Utopie, in their journal of the same name. She is also researching the use of photographs in Beat literature, particularly in the the collaborative work of William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin.
While much of her work addresses French art and visual culture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, she also writes about contemporary art, architecture and photography. Additionally, she is on the steering committee of a multidisciplinary, multi-university SSHRC-funded research group on the history and theory of photography. In 2007-09, the group is exploring the theme "Affect and Photography."
"Surreal Encounters: Science, Surrealism and the Re-Circulation of a Crime-Scene Photograph." History of Photography 32.2 (Summer 2008): 110-122.
"Photographic Appropriation, Ethnography and the Surrealist Other." The Comparatist 32 (May 2008): 63-81.
"From Document to Memento: Atget, Surrealism and the Manipulation of Memory." In Constructions of Death, Mourning and Memory. WAPACC Annual Conference Proceedings. Edited by Lilian H. Zirpolo. Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey: WAPACC, 2006. 48-51.
"Worlds of Birds and Snow." In Sharon Switzer, Falling from Grace: Scenes 1 Through 6. Exhibition at the McMaster University Museum of Art, November 2006-January 2007. Hamilton: McMaster University, 2006. n.p.
Recent Conference Papers:
"Photographic Appropriation and Montage as Narrative Disruption in the Collaborations of William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin." American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) Annual Meeting. Long Beach, CA, April 2008.
"From Pathology to Ecstasy: Picturing Hysteria in La Révolution surrealiste." 'Madness' Manifest: Creativity, Art and the Margins of Mental Health Symposium. Brock University, January 2008.
"Found, Borrowed and Stolen: The Use Of Photographs in French Surrealist Reviews, 1924-1939." Humanities Research Institute Symposium. Brock University, December 2007.
" 'The white cube ejected Heidi for getting ornamented': Ornament as Gendered Deviance from Modernism in Mike Kelly and Paul McCarthy's Heidi Project." Universities Art Association of Canada (UAAC) Conference. Waterloo, Ontario. November 2007.