Canadian Art Historian to Speak at Trent February 11


Dr. Lynda Jessup to Speak on Role of the Group of Seven in Construction of a Canadian National Art History

Friday, February 5, 2010, Peterborough

The Canadian Studies Undergraduate Department at Trent University is pleased to announce Canadian art historian, Dr. Lynda Jessup, will present a free, public lecture entitled “Winners’ History: Exhibiting the Group of Seven” on Thursday, February 11, 2010 at 7 p.m. in the Scott House Multi-Purpose Room at Catharine Parr Traill College.

During the lecture, Dr. Jessup will explore the role of the Group of Seven in the construction of a Canadian national art history and relevant institutions.

Exhibitions of the Group of Seven have functioned for many years as sites of official nationalism, venues within which to advance hegemonic values, dominant narratives and “winners’ histories.” Despite increasing recognition of their active social role, little to no research has been done on these sites or on their historical formation, which is intimately connected to the official history of Canadian art. This situation is significant, given that the field of Canadian art is still defined almost exclusively through public exhibitions and catalogues. Thus exhibitions of the Group of Seven also stand pivotally at the intersection of public and academic art histories in Canada, constituting on another level what have been called “displays of power,” sites within which symbolic struggles for cultural authority and narrative control are waged.

In this talk, Dr. Jessup’s purpose will be to offer some preliminary observations on the role of such sites through consideration of Group of Seven exhibitions and the ways in which public and academic art histories in Canada mediate each other through these events, playing out the implications of their increasingly public manifestation as sites of socio-cultural contestation and negotiation. In doing so, she proposes to reflect, implicitly, if not directly, on the larger study of disciplinary art history and its normative  strategies, in this case, the study of national art histories both as nationalist formulations characteristic of modern states of the West and part of increasingly post-national processes of globalization.

Dr. Jessup teaches Canadian art history and museum representation in the Department of Art at Queen’s University, where she is also director of the new graduate program in Cultural Studies. She has published a number of articles dealing with the politics of representation in the museum, including those surrounding exhibitions of the Group of Seven. She is editor of Antimodernism and Artistic Experience: Policing the Boundaries of Modernity and On Aboriginal Representation in the Gallery, and co-editor, with Andrew Nurse and Gordon Smith, of Around and About Marius Barbeau, Modelling Twentieth-Century Culture. Currently, she is writing a book entitled Winners’ History: Exhibiting the Group of Seven, which deals with recent exhibitions of the Group of Seven in relation to both contemporary nationalist discourses in Canada and less geographically bounded processes of economic globalization.

This free, public lecture is sponsored by the Department of Canadian Studies and the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies at Trent University.


For more information, please contact:
Jeannine Crowe, Department of Canadian Studies, Trent University, (705) 748-1817 or