‘Why is Visual Studies a hotspot of attention at this time? Whose interests are being served? Is this inquiry merely a response to the new realities of global culture or is it producing that culture, and can it do so critically?’

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Thinking globally, but from the particular, ‘local’ position of the History of Art and through the medium of the visual image, a distinct aesthetics emerges, a science of the sensible that in our time accepts the thin membrane of images as the way globalisation is unavoidably perceived. How can theory learn from contemporary art practices engaged in stretching that membrane, providing depth of field, slowing the tempo of perception, and allowing images to expose a space of common political action? What does ‘world opinion’ mean in the context of global images? What are the implications for a critical Visual Studies that resists inequities by rubbing the global imagination against the grain?’ (Susan Buck-Morss) Susan Buck-Morss (Cornell University) is the author of Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West and Thinking Past Terror: Islamism and Critical Theory on the Left. In collaboration with the AHRB Research Centre for Studies of Surrealism and its Legacies.