Rendez-vous de l'Institut: The Fellows' Series

William Sharpe:
What Does Walking Look Like? Steps Toward a Visual History of Human Locomotion

  • Thu, October 3, 2019 | 6:30 p.m.
  • Reid Hall | 4, rue de Chevreuse, 75006 Paris
  • Free and open to the public

Nothing could be more natural than walking. Yet since ancient times, just how, why, and where people walk has been shaped by a host of cultural factors. Gender, class, race, religion, citizenship, technology, and personal background all play a part in determining what role walking plays in an individual life or in society at large. Since the Romantic era attention has focused on what might be called "worded walking": the poems, novels, travelogues, essays, and codes of behavior that have represented walkers as they search for physical health and psychological insight.

But what about the expressiveness of the walking body itself? On a pilgrimage, a civil rights march, an urban promenade, or a country hike, the body speaks. This lecture will trace some of the milestones in the visual representation of walking, considering examples drawn from paintings, photos, and films, as well as those sculpted in stone, worked into stained glass, and mapped digitally using GPS systems. How does the depicted walker function as a sign, and what strategies have artists used to portray the motion and motivation of humans on the march?

Read more about William Sharpe.

For more information on this series of talks, please download our full schedule of talks here.