Queen's University

Dr. Lynda Jessup

Professor, Associate Dean (Graduate Studies), Department of Art History and Art Conservation, Cultural Studies Program
HUMANITIES, SOCIAL SCIENCES, CREATIVE ARTS, FILM AND MEDIA, HISTORY, CULTURE, INDIGENOUS STUDIES, VISUAL ART

Autobiography

I am the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies at Queen’s University, as well as a Professor in the Cultural Studies Program, and the Department of Art History and Art Conservation, where I supervise graduate students in the masters and doctoral programs.

My research focuses on 19th and 20th century Canadian and Native North American social and cultural history. Within this general framework, I emphasize the representation and circulation of Canadian and Native North American visual and material culture in exhibitions and in museum collections, an interest that has taken shape more recently in research on the use of exhibitions in cultural diplomacy. I have always been particularly interested in development of the field of Canadian art history as a critically-engaged area of knowledge production and, perhaps in consequence of this, as one that also interrogates its own borders, classifications, and value systems as part of an ongoing process of rethinking and revision. In such an effort, I have extended my research on Canadian art to visual culture and museum representation and to the study of exhibitions as sites where public and academic art histories intersect—where national histories of art find public expression and real-world relevance. Such research has included study of the contemporary situation of other art histories as they have been constructed historically within national art narratives, prominent among them those involving the arts of indigenous peoples.

Currently, my concern is to explore the history of Canada’s national art narrative in conversation with other art histories in circulation internationally over the course of the twentieth century. Focussing on representative exhibitions—by definition, state-sponsored shows—I am looking at the role of national art histories in advancing international relations in the twentieth century and globalizing dynamics in the twenty-first. In doing so, I am building on my recent work - Curating Cultural Diplomacy, a special issue of the Journal of Curatorial Studies that I co-edited with Sarah E.K. Smith (Carleton University) and Negotiations in Vacant Lot: Studying the Visual in Canada, which I co-edited with Erin Morton (University of New Brunswick) and Kirsty Robertson (Western University). Like these publications, my current research is enhanced by the wide range of collaborations in which I have been involved in the course of my practice. Designed to focus scholarship and discussion in the field (however defined) on key questions of relevance to various constituencies, my collaborations are also represented by On Aboriginal Representation in the Gallery; Antimodernism and Artistic Experience: Policing the Boundaries of Modernity; and Around and About Marius Barbeau: Modelling Twentieth-Century Culture, on which I worked with Andrew Nurse (Mount Allison University) and Gordon Smith (Queen’s University).

Current Research

I am the Director of the North American Cultural Diplomacy Initiative (NACDi), a multi-disciplinary partnership that includes academics, policymakers and practitioners from North America and beyond.  Our objective is to establish cultural diplomacy as a critical practice: by interrogating and advancing cultural diplomacy, we aim to raise its profile as a valuable tool to foster international and transcultural relations—that is, to measure it and mobilize it to inform public policy development and implementation. Specifically, the strategically-important network of networks we are establishing seeks to demonstrate the value and use of cultural diplomacy to government bodies, cultural institutions, and cultural practitioners. In addition, we aim to advance new scholarship and research that provides greater understanding of how cultural diplomacy functions to connect North America globally; not merely as part of the “soft power” tool-kit of nation states, but as a multi-directional and potentially activist practice that encompasses a broad range of non-state actors, including cultural institutions, managers, producers, consumers and communities seeking to imagine counter-hegemonic possibilities and inclusive futures.

Most Recent Project

Winners' History: The Group of Seven, the National Gallery and Canada's Global Affairs (forthcoming)

This study explores the history of Canada’s national art narrative in conversation with other art histories in circulation internationally over the course of the twentieth century.

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Other Projects

  • Curating Cultural Diplomacy

    Special issue, Journal of Curatorial Studies, 5, no. 3. Designed to address increasing interest in research located at the intersection of exhibition history and international relations.

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  • Negotiations in a Vacant Lot: Studying the Visual in Canada

    Contributors to this collection reflect on potential futures of visual studies in Canada cognizant of the national/ist rubric imposed on it by the formation of the larger discipline of art history in the 19th century.

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  • Around and About Marius Barbeau: Modelling Twentieth-Century Culture

    Around and About Marius Barbeau: Modelling Twentieth-Century Culture, co-edited with Andrew Nurse and Gordon Smith (Gatineau: Canadian Museum of Civilization, 2008). Marius Barbeau played a vital role in shaping Canadian culture in the twentieth century.

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  • On Aboriginal Representation in the Gallery

    Aboriginal Representation in the Gallery Drawing on the established intellectual and institutional authority of indigenous artists, curators and academics working in cultural institutions and universities, this book serves as an important primer on key questions accompanying the changing representational practices of the community cultural centre, the public art gallery and the anthropological museum. In this anthology, indigenous and other scholars address current and provocative issues arising from the production, collection and display of indigenous historical and contemporary art in Canada.

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  • Nass River Indians

    Nass River Indians (Reconstruction), 35 mm reconstruction of the lost 1928 film, in collaboration with Library and Archives Canada, 23 min. Concept, research and sequencing by Lynda Jessup; intertitle scans and digital reconstruction by Dale Gervais, 2001. Introductory intertitles to the reconstructed film written by Lynda Jessup, Dale Gervais, and the Nisga’a Lisims Government.

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  • Antimodernism and Artistic Experience: Policing the Boundaries of Modernity

    This volume critically addresses the ways in which ‘modern” artists used antimodern constructs in formulating work they saw as responding to, or expressing modernity.

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