Alumni Activities: Linda Steer

514HKXmCJSLLinda Steer (PhD 2006), Associate Professor of Visual Arts at Brock University, has just published her innovative study, Appropriated Photographs in French Surrealist Periodicals, 1924–1939. The book, based on her Binghamton dissertation, is published by Routledge and is the first monograph to analyze the Surrealist gesture of photographic appropriation, examining “found” photographs in three French Surrealist reviews from the 1920s and 1930s: La Révolution surréaliste, edited by André Breton; Documents, edited by Georges Bataille; and Minotaure, edited by Breton and others.

Alumni Activities: Paulina Banas at the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture

Émile Prisse d’Avennes “Mandarah: salon de réception au rez-de-chaussée,” published in Prisse D’Avennes’ L’art arabe d’après les monuments du Kaire: depuis le VIIe siècle jusqu’à la fin du XVIIIe (Paris, Vve A. Morel et Cie., 1869-77), Vol. III, Pl. 141. Courtesy of the New York Public Library.

Congratulations to Paulina Banas (PhD 2016), who has been awarded a Postdoctoral Associateship at the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (AKPIA) at the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University for 2016-17. This appointment will allow Paulina to focus on research and on revising her dissertation, The Orientalist Book Industry (1840-80): Prisse d’Avennes, Systems of Borrowing and Reuse, and the Marketing of Egypt, for publication. She will also contribute a public lecture on her research project to the AKPIA lecture series, A Forum for Islamic Art and Architecture.

Alumni Activities: Hala Auji


Congratulations to Hala Auji (PhD 2013), Assistant Professor of Islamic Art at the American University Beirut, whose monograph Printing Arab Modernity: Book Culture and the American Press in Nineteenth-Century Beirut will be published in June 2016 by Brill:

During the nineteenth century, the American Mission Press in Beirut printed religious and secular publications written by foreign missionaries and Syrian scholars such as Nāṣīf al-Yāzijī and Buṭrus al-Bustānī, of later nahḍa fame. In a region where presses were still not prevalent, letterpress-printed and lithographed works circulated within a larger network that was dominated by manuscript production. In this book, Hala Auji analyzes the American Press publications as important visual and material objects that provide unique insights into an era of changing societal concerns and shifting intellectual attitudes of Syria’s Muslim and Christian populations. Contending that printed books are worthy of close visual scrutiny, this study highlights an important place for print culture during a time of an emerging Arab modernity.

Alumni Activities: Sarah Bassnett

9780773546714McGill–Queen’s University Press have just announced the publication in April of Picturing Toronto: Photography and the Making of a Modern City, an innovative, interdisciplinary study of photography’s role in the liberal reform of early twentieth-century Toronto by Sarah Bassnett (PhD 2004).

Drawing on archival sources from the early twentieth century, Sarah Bassnett investigates how a range of groups, including the municipal government, social reformers and the press, used photography to reconfigure the urban environment and constitute liberal subjects. Through a series of case studies, including the construction of the Bloor Viaduct, civic beautification plans, urban reform in “the Ward,” immigration and citizenship, and the portrait photography of Arthur Goss, Toronto’s first official photographer, Bassnett exposes how photographs were at the heart of debates over what the city should look like, how it should operate, and under what conditions it was appropriate for people to live. Dispelling popular misconceptions, Picturing Toronto demonstrates that Goss and other photographers did not simply document the changing conditions of urban life––their photography contributed to the development of modern Toronto and shaped its inhabitants.

Alumni activities: Allison Ferris at the Des Moines Art Center

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 8.47.38 AM

Allison Ferris (MA 1991) has recently been appointed Senior Curator at the Des Moines Art Center in Iowa. Prior to accepting the position at Des Moines, Allison was a curator at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Wisconsin for ten years and at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Maine for twelve years. Her focus will be on contemporary art and the outstanding permanent collection. Congratulations to Allison.

Alumni Activities: Sharon Smith at MIT


Sharon Smith (PhD, 2009) is co-organizer of the symposium New Frontiers in Gulf Urbanism, taking place March 11-12 and presented by the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT. For more information, visit

Sharon C. Smith is the Program Head at the Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT and co-director of Archnet. Her areas of specialization include Middle Eastern art and architecture and Early Modern Italian art and architecture. Sharon sits on several boards, including the Middle East Outreach Council (MEOC), and is also a Fellow of the Institute, Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies (TALIM). In addition, Sharon serves as image editor for Muqarnas: An Annual on the Visual Cultures of the Islamic World. She has presented widely on issues of documentation, digitization, and the dissemination of knowledge, as well as on art historical topics primarily focused on visual and material culture in the Early Modern Mediterranean.