Spotlight Detail

"Bringing the War Home": Visual Aftermaths and Domestic Disturbances, A Talk by Professor Caren Kaplan

Please join us May 15th for "Bringing the War Home", a talk by UC Davis Professor Caren Kaplan.

The Department of Gender & Sexuality Studies Presents:

"Bringing the War Home": Visual Aftermaths and Domestic Disturbances

Wednesday, May 15th
HIB 135 | 4 - 5:30 PM

Co-sponsored by the Departments of Art History, Comparative Literature, Film & Media Studies, and History
and the UCI Initiative to End Family Violence


At the close of the First Gulf War, feminist architectural historian Beatriz Colomina wrote that "war today speaks about the difficulty of establishing the limits of domestic space." That conflict of 1990-91 is most often cited as the first to pull the waging of war fully into the digital age and therefore into a blurring of boundaries of all kinds. Yet, most modern wars have introduced technological innovations that
transform social relations and modes of communication and representation. In this paper I want to focus on a period that includes the Vietnam War (1955-1975) and extends into the "War on Terror" through a consideration of Martha Rosler's photo collage series "House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home" (1967-2008). The technique of photomontage reinforces the artist's emphatic effort to bring together seemingly
incommensurable elements—images of exquisite domestic interiors, glamourous consumer commodities, and landscapes and bodies damaged by warfare. Literally bringing wars waged by the United States throughout this long durée into the hyper commodified environment of fashion layouts and magazine advertisement, Rosler demonstrates the the impossibility of limiting domestic space, an impossibility that challenges representation across formats and practices—televisual, photographic, cinematic, social media, analogue, digital, etc. Such disturbances of "here" and "there," "now" and "then," resonate as powerful "aftermaths" of wars visible and invisible, always already underway.

Caren Kaplan is a professor of American Studies at University of California at Davis, and a prominent figure in the academic discipline of women's studies. Together with Inderpal Grewal, Kaplan is best known for her work as a founder of the field of transnational feminist cultural studies or transnational feminism.[1] Kaplan is a proponent of the digital humanities and has turned the critical lens of cultural studies upon topics such as travel, visual culture, militarization and the construction of consumer subjects. Her book 'Questions of Travel' has been highly influential in the development of a social science attentive to the role of travel and mobility in everyday life and contemporary culture.[2]