Call for contributions for a symposium on “Teaching science with light projection: regimes of vision in the classroom, 1880-1940”

Here is a call for contributions for a symposium on “Teaching science with light projection: regimes of vision in the classroom, 1880-1940” at the ESHS in Bologna, 31 August-3 September 2020.

Organizers: Nelleke Teughels and Wouter Egelmeers

In the early 19th century, the ideas of reform pedagogues such as Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827) gave rise to a didactic turn towards the visual that criticized an exclusive textual mediation of knowledge through books and lectures (Depaepe 1999). The pedagogues and policymakers who strove for a more child-centred approach to teaching were soon joined by media producers and marketers in their aim to transform the classroom into a multimodal space for learning.

By the late 19th century, photographic images had taken up an important role in facilitating this visual turn in educational theory and practice. They were seen as direct representations of reality, ‘evidence of a novel kind’ and, above all, as visual ‘facts’. (Nelson 2000: 427). From the turn of the 20th century onwards, teachers were increasingly pressured to incorporate high-profile media technologies such as stereoscopes, lantern projectors, epi(dia)scopes and film projectors into their lessons (Cuban 1986). The accuracy of photographic images and the flawless projections enabled by these new technologies inaugurated new regimes of vision and sensoriality that equated light with truth and vision with knowledge (Eisenhower 2006). At the same time, projection-aided lessons provided powerful commentaries on what was shown, conditioning pupils’ practices of looking and giving rise to particular ways they were supposed to understand the world (Good 2019).

We propose a symposium engaging with educational uses of light projection from diverse perspectives. We aim to explore this topic in relation to the material and practical aspects of visual teaching and the various regimes of vision that are engendered by the use of visual media like stereographic photographs, lantern projection, the episcope or film projection. Papers could center on a variety of aspects of projection media in educational contexts, ranging from topics like entertaining uses of the magic lantern to the specific modes of scientific vision (Daston & Galison 2007), taught in educational contexts varying from pre-school to secondary or higher education.

Please send your abstract (max. 300 words including possible references) and a short biographical note of the author(s) (max. 150 words) to Nelleke Teughels ( ) no later than 11 December 2019.


Cuban, Larry. Teachers and Machines: The Classroom Use of Technology since 1920. New York: Columbia universityTeachers college press, 1986.
Daston, Lorraine, and Peter Galison. 2007. Objectivity. New York: Zone Books; Distributed by the MIT Press.
Depaepe, Marc. Order in Progress: Everyday Educational Practice in Primary Schools, Belgium, 1880 - 1970. Studia Paedagogica. N. S. 29. Leuven: university press, 2000.
Eisenhauer, Jennifer F. (2006) Next Slide Please: The Magical, Scientific, and Corporate Discourses of Visual Projection Technologies, Studies in Art Education, 47:3, 198-214, DOI: 10.1080/00393541.2006.11650082

Nelson, Robert S. “The Slide Lecture, or the Work of Art ‘History’ in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. Critical Inquiry 26, nr. 3 (2000): 414–434.