On social media and in our newsfeeds and mailboxes, fundraising campaigns featuring needy or suffering children confront us on a daily basis. They seek to grab our attention, stimulate empathy, prick our moral conscience and open our wallets for a good cause.
Modern humanitarianism and photographic technologies emerged in the 19th century and came of age together.
But when did humanitarian campaigns first begin to feature children? How do these images address their audiences, and why does this focus persist?
Heide Fehrenbach, a Board of Trustees Professor and Distinguished Research Professor in the NIU Department of History, will speak at noon Monday, Sept. 28, on “The Humanitarian Eye: Photography and the Imperiled Child.”
Fehrenbach’s Board of Trustees Professor Seminar takes place in the Capitol Room of the Holmes Student Center. Refreshments are served at 11:30 a.m. No registration is required; all are welcome.
During her talk, Fehrenbach will consider the history of humanitarianism through the lens of the camera and its focus on the child. History suggests that while depictions of children-in-need may appear static and predictable, for over a century they have been deployed in various ways for a surprising array of political agendas.
On the NIU history faculty since 2001, Fehrenbach previously she held tenured positions at Emory University and at Colgate University. In 2014, she was named Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day Faculty Mentor of the Year.
Her teaching and research has focused on European history, German-American relations and transnational histories of race, gender and visual culture. She is the author or editor of five books, most recently “Humanitarian Photography: A History” (Cambridge U Press, 2015), and essays on military occupation, war children and international adoption. A former Guggenheim Fellow, she was fellow-in-residence at the American Academy in Berlin and the recipient of an ACLS and two NEH fellowships.
Sponsors of the seminar are the Office of the Provost and the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. For more information, call (815) 753-0595 or [email protected].