Art History Department

Kaplan, Louis MA, PhD

Professor, History and Theory of Photography and New Media (UT Mississauga)

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Professor Kaplan is recognized internationally for his innovative historical and theoretical contributions to the field of photography studies in such areas as spirit photography, photography and community, photographic humor, the New Vision, and photography theory.  Professor Kaplan’s wide-ranging research interests also include 20th and 21st century European and North American art and visual culture; humor in art and culture; film and media culture; deconstruction; contemporary Jewish art and visual culture; and new media art practices (especially augmented reality).  He holds cross-appointments or affiliations with the Cinema Studies Institute, the Centre for Jewish Studies, the Centre for the Study of the United States, and the Knowledge Media Design Institute. His undergraduate appointment is in the Department of Visual Studies at the Mississauga campus where he served as the inaugural Chair. Professor Kaplan was appointed as a Jackman Humanities Institute Faculty Research Fellow during the 2014-15 academic year.

Areas of Academic Interest
  • History and Theory of Photography and New Media
Current Research
  • Photography and Humour. Forthcoming in Exposures Book series edited by Mark Haworth-Booth and Peter Hamilton for Reaktion Books, London.
  • The Imaginary Jewish Homelands of I.N. Steinberg: An Augmented Reality Project (2015-2020). Chief historian and theorist on this digital art and humanities project supported by SSHRC Insight Grant using augmented reality to image and imagine the Freeland League’s “territorialist” proposals for a Jewish homeland in Western Australia, Tasmania, and Suriname in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
  • Mapping Ararat: An Imaginary Jewish Homelands Project
  • Ph.D University of Chicago, 1988
Selected Publications
  • The Strange Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.

  • American Exposures: Photography and Community in the Twentieth Century, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2005.

  • Laszlo Moholy-Nagy: Biographical Writings, Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1995.

  • “Returning to Scratch: Joshua Neustein’s Erasures and the Movement of Deconstruction,” in Brad Buckley and John Conomos, editors, Erasure: The Spectre of Cultural Memory, (Libri Publishing House, Middlesex, UK, 2015).

  • “Photographic Patriotism: Arthur Mole’s Living Photographs,” in Arthur Mole, Living Photographs (Paris: RVB Books, June 2015), 73-84. Essay also translated into French by Frédérique Destribats.

  • “Humour in Art” in Michael Kelly, ed. Encyclopedia of Aesthetics (Oxford University Press, 2014).

  • Mapping Ararat: Augmented Reality, Virtual Tourism and Grand Island’s Jewish Ghosts,” in C/R: The New Centennial Review, Vol. 13, No. 2 (2013), 239-264.

  • “Sontag’s Regarding and Bataille’s Unknowing” in Maria Pia Di Bella and James Elkins, Representations of Pain in Art and Visual Culture  (New York: Routledge, 2013), 52-63.

  • “Dybbuks of Derrida: Traces of Deconstruction in Contemporary Jewish Art,” in Loren Lerner, ed., “Contemporary Art and Religion” special issue of Journal of Canadian Art History 33:2 (Fall 2012), 171-197.

  • “An Art of Getting Lost: Mapping Patrick Clancy’s Photo-Scroll 365/360,” History of Photography, Volume 35, Issue 1 (London: Routledge, February 2011): 6-14.

  • “Midcentury Studio: Entertaining Stan Douglas’s Photographic Remakes and Double Takes,” in Melanie O’Brian, ed., Stan Douglas: Entertainment (Toronto: The Powerplant, 2011), 19-41.

  • “John and Yoko’s Media War for Peace” in J. Keri Cronin and Kirsty Robertson, ed., Imagining Resistance: Visual Culture and Activism in Canada (Waterloo, Canada: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2011), 55-74.

  • “Photograph/Death Mask: Jean-Luc Nancy’s Recasting of the Photographic Image” in Louis Kaplan and John Paul Ricco, editors, Regarding Jean-Luc Nancy, Special Issue of Journal of Visual Culture, Vol. 9, No. 1 (London: Sage Publishers, April 2010): 45-62.

  • “Bataille’s Laughter,” in John C. Welchman, ed., Black Sphinx: On the Comedic in Modern Art  (Zurich, Switzerland: J.R.P./Ringier, 2010), 98-125.

  • “Spooked Time: The Temporal Dimensions of Spirit Photography,” in Baetens, Streitberger, and Van Gelder, eds., Time and Photography (Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press, 2010), 47-65.

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