Mark Salber Phillips will give a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Monday, January 22, at 12:15 pm. His talk is entitled “Distance and Re-distancing as Tools for Re-telling the History of European Art.”

Taking the genre of history painting as its starting point, this talk explores the notion of distance as a fundamental issue in historical representation. In common usage distance refers to things remote or removed, but this offers only a limited perspective. Every representation of history, Phillips argues, whether textual or visual, incorporates elements of making, feeling, acting, and understanding—or, to alter the terms, questions of formal structure and vocabulary, affective impact, moral or political summoning, and intelligibility. Building on this conception Phillips will explore some questions of distance and re-distancing as they help to illuminate aspects of European history painting from the seventeenth century to the present.


Mark Salber Phillips is an intellectual historian who engages with questions of historical representation. His most recent book, On Historical Distance (Yale, 2013) won the Canadian Historical Association’s Ferguson Prize. He is also the author of Society and Sentiment: Genres of Historical Writing in Britain, 1740–1820 (Princeton, 2000), The Memoir of Marco Parenti: A Life in Renaissance Florence (Princeton, 1987), and Francesco Guicciardini: The Historian’s Craft (Toronto and Manchester, 1974). He has also co-edited Re-thinking Historical Distance (Palgrave, 2013) and Questions of Tradition (Toronto, 2004). He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago and King’s College, London, and a Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of the History of Art at Yale University. He has been awarded fellowships by the Guggenheim; the Clark Art Institute; CASVA; the Yale Center for British Art; Peterhouse, Emmanuel College, and King’s College, Cambridge; the Australian National University; the Folger Shakespeare Library; the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; and the Villa I Tatti. His current project is a study of history painting in Britain, 1700 to 1900. He teaches history at Carleton University in Ottawa.


This event will be livestreamed. Please check back the day of the event for a link to the video. To watch videos of past events please visit our YouTube page.