Joachim Pissarro Guest Editor of Feb. Brooklyn Rail ft.: Howard Singerman, Jenny Jaskey, and Katy Siegel
Art, Theory, and Infancy
by Joachim Pissarro
During a job search at a prominent university about 20 years ago, a search committee decided not to appoint a scholar in non-Western art despite the fact that, all agreed, this person surpassed in knowledge, field research, languages, and publications almost all (few) contenders in the field. The rationale of the decision was pithily expressed by a member of the committee: “He doesn’t have enough Theory.” Something strange was occurring in American academe. (This was the 1990s.) The very campuses (mostly through the agency of comp lit departments) that had propelled an ideological revolution in the early 1980s by opening up the canons of literature, philosophy, and critical thinking to a roster of authors (mostly French—see Weinberg’s essay and his reference to T. J. Clark’s just quip about Theory being “a French disease”) having been responsible for propelling new modes of thinking, . . .