In 1962, Yale University art historian George Kubler published The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things, a book that challenged traditional notions of style and period in art history. Now, 60 years later, we bring together a historian, an anthropologist, an archaeologist, and an art historian—all members of the BGC faculty—to explore The Shape of Time across geographical and disciplinary boundaries and to rediscover the prescient insights it offers for material culture and object-oriented scholarship.
Meredith B. Linn is assistant professor of historical archaeology at Bard Graduate Center. She holds a PhD in anthropology from Columbia University, an MA in the social sciences from the University of Chicago, and a BA in art history from Swarthmore College. Her work focuses on nineteenth-century New York City, particularly upon the health-related experiences and strategies of Irish immigrants and upon Seneca Village, the predominantly African American community whose land was taken by the City of New York to construct Central Park. She has published articles about both projects and is currently working on a book about each.

François Louis is professor of Chinese art and material culture at Bard Graduate Center. From 2002 to 2008 he also served as editor-in-chief of the journal Artibus Asiae. He obtained his doctorate from the University of Zurich and has published widely on the visual and material culture of medieval China. Recent publications include Design by the Book: Chinese Ritual Objects and the Sanli Tu and the co-edited volumes Antiquarianism and Intellectual Life in Europe and China, 1500–1800 (2012) and Perspectives on the Liao (2013). He is currently working on a history of Liao-dynasty archaeological finds.

Aaron Glass is an associate professor of cultural anthropology at Bard Graduate Center. His research focuses on Indigenous visual art, material culture, media, and performance on the northwest coast of North America, as well as the history of anthropology, museums, and ethnographic representation. Glass’s books include The Totem Pole: An Intercultural History (2010); Objects of Exchange: Social and Material Transformation on the Late Nineteenth-Century Northwest Coast (2011); Return to the Land of the Head Hunters: Edward S. Curtis, the Kwakwaka’wakw, and the Making of Modern Cinema (2014); and Writing the Hamat’sa: Ethnography, Colonialism, and the Cannibal Dance (2021).

Drew Thompson is associate professor of Black studies and visual culture at Bard Graduate Center, where he researches and teaches in the areas of African and Black diaspora visual and material culture. Curating exhibitions is a fundamental part of his teaching and scholarship. He recently co-curated “Benjamin Wigfall & Communications Village,” the first posthumous survey of the Black American artist Benjamin Wigfall, which opened in September 2022 at the Dorsky Museum before traveling to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. He is also at work on an exhibition about African metalwork for the BGC Gallery, scheduled for fall 2023. He authored Filtering Histories: The Photographic Bureaucracy in Mozambique, 1960 to Recent Times (University of Michigan Press, 2021) and numerous publications about the history of photography and contemporary art in Southern Africa.

Joshua Massey is a student at Bard Graduate Center, where he studies American material culture and the ways in which objects are transformed into art through critical and creative interventions. His essay, “The World According to Aldwyth,” appears in the exhibition catalogue for This is Not! Aldwyth in Retrospect (2023–24) and he is the editor of Wordsmithing: The Spoken Art of Lonnie Holley, a forthcoming collection written in collaboration with Bernard Herman and Holley himself. In his spare time, Massey writes poetry, practices film photography, and shops for books he has no time to read.

Jeffrey L. Collins is professor of art history and material culture at Bard Graduate Center, where he specializes in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe and its sphere of influence overseas. He is the author of Papacy and Politics in Eighteenth-Century Rome: Pius VI and the Arts (Cambridge, 2004) and a principal contributor to Pedro Friedeberg (Mexico City, 2009) and History of Design: Decorative Arts and Material Culture, 1400-2000 (New Haven and London, 2013). A fellow of the American Academy in Rome, he has published widely on architecture, urbanism, painting, sculpture, book illustration, museology, metalwork, furniture, and film.