As part of our commitment to experiential learning and research excellence, our faculty members regularly present as part of UVic’s ongoing Dean’s Lecture Series. This spring, we were fortunate to present talks by the School of Music‘s Joseph Salem and Melia Belli Bose of our Art History & Visual Studies department.
Research is continually reshaping the way we live and think. In this ongoing series of free online lectures, you’ll hear from distinguished faculty members and learn about their areas of research interest.
The series is presented in partnership with UVic’s Faculties of Education, Engineering, Fine Arts, Graduate Studies, Human and Social Development, Humanities, Law, Science and Social Sciences, as well as the Greater Victoria Public Library and the Division of Continuing Studies.
Joseph Salem: Sound Studies
From music to the conversations around us, our lives are shaped by sounds. Yet the field of Sound Studies—the study of the role sound plays in culture (both natural and unnatural)—is relatively new, having emerged from the disciplines of anthropology, history and cultural studies only two decades ago.
School of Music professor Joseph Salem makes his position clear in his talk, Sound Studies: What Is It, Who Does It and Why Do We Care?
“The idea of Sound Studies is not to discriminate between sounds as it is to provide a soundtrack for our study of humanity,” he says. “Scholars can now read between the lines of historical documents to discover the role sound played in cultures of the past.”
While focusing on the unconscious role of sound in society, Salem—an assistant professor who specializes in music history, theory and musicology—says his goal is to make it more explicit.
“Our self-awareness about the role of sound in culture has increased over the past 50 years,” says Salem. “Sound Studies remains a model for other disciplines: in lacking a specific centre and in maintaining flexible boundaries, it provides a space for us to adapt to our changing selves while maintaining a connection to our anthropological past.”
Melia Beli-Bose: The Razor’s Edge
No question, art provides an opportunity to discuss issues often considered taboo by societies. Consider contemporary Bangladeshi artist Tayeba Begum Lipi’s sculpture Love Bed: a life-sized bed fashioned from stainless steel razorblades, it’s held in the Guggenheim Museum’s permanent collection.
“The sculpture exposes paradoxes in rural Bangladeshi women’s lives,” explains Art History & Visual Studies professor Melia Belli Bose in her Dean’s Lecture, The Razor’s Edge: Gender Politics and Structural Violence in the Work of Bangladeshi Artist Tayeba Begum Lipi.
“The bed of razors is seductive and eerily inviting, yet—by virtue of the material’s potential to inflict pain and even death—dangerous,” she says. “Together with tiny golden safety pins, razorblades are synecdoches tethered to key events in the artist’s early childhood and young adult life.”
An associate professor who specializes in visual cultures of early modern and contemporary South Asia, Belli Bose’s research focuses on issues of death, memorialization, gender and public identity in the early modern courtly and contemporary art and architecture of north India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. As such, Lipi’s work makes for an ideal topic.
“She has established herself as one of a handful of brazenly outspoken, politically engaged Bangladeshi women artists whose work holds a mirror to their society and advocates changes such as improved women’s education and healthcare,” says Belli Bose.