The Visual Scholarship Initiative



This session discusses the work of the Visual Scholarship Initiative (VSI), which was started in 2006 by a small group of graduate students at Emory University. It quickly established itself on the Emory campus as a place where students from different departments could meet to share work and explore the creative possibilities of scholarly practice. At the core of VSI was critical appraisal of work in progress. Meeting regularly, students formed an ongoing discussion group that took specific examples of practice as its point of departure. VSI followed an art school “crit” approach – that is everyone except the presenter responded to the work, and only after everyone had spoken was the presenter allowed to speak. Comments focused on the formal and substantive aspects of the work under review and the particular choice of medium. The varied backgrounds and academic locations of participants yielded lively exchange and laid the foundation for subsequent dialogue among participants. This second stage of discussion focused around where the presented work stood in relation to existing forms of scholarship and what kinds of arguments might be made as to its academic legitimacy. Students supported each other in experimenting with different approaches and media. Collectively they worked towards establishing an intellectual context for non-traditional work and the grounds for its evaluation as scholarly practice. Participants: Andy Ditzler, Sarah Franzen, Anna Grimshaw, Sasha Klupchak, Joey Orr, Kwame Phillips, Sydney Silverstein, Mael Vizcarra

In the 2021 RAI Film Fest