Pacific Northwest College of Art Announces Co-Chairs of MA in Critical Theory + Creative Research

November 17, 2011

November 17, 2011

Lisa Radon, Communications Specialist
Pacific Northwest College of Art, 971 255 5528

Becca Biggs, Director of Communications
Pacific Northwest College of Art, 971 255 5511

Pacific Northwest College of Art Announces Co-Chairs of the MA in Critical Theory + Creative Research Program
PNCA’s Newest Graduate Program Launches in Fall 2012

PORTLAND, OR – November 17, 2011 – Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) welcomes Anne Marie Oliver and Barry Sanders as co-chairs of the MA in Critical Theory + Creative Research (CT+CR). Oliver is currently Assistant Professor of Intermedia and Contemporary Theory at PNCA and Research Scholar in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Professor Sanders has been PNCA’s Writer-in-Residence since 2009. Between them, Oliver and Sanders bring a combined 60+ years of iconoclastic research, writing, and teaching to the program.

“The College is honored to have two distinguished scholars, theorists, and authors who bring such depth and breadth of experience to co-chair the program,” says PNCA Provost, Greg Ware. “Their work has been seminal in the development of CT+CR, and this, along with their knowledge, passion, intellect, and reputation, make them ideally suited to help shape and guide this new program towards impact and importance.”

The MA CT+CR is an accelerated seminar-based program that combines the study of critical theory as a mode of socio-political critique and creative research as a process-driven form of inquiry, pushing both theory and research in new directions within the context of a 21st-century art school.

Barry Sanders holds a PhD in Medieval Literature with an emphasis on literature and language. First to hold the Peter S. and Gloria Gold Chair at Pitzer College, Sanders taught for over 30 years at the Claremont Colleges in the departments of Literature and the History of Ideas. Sanders is the author of 14 books and over 50 essays and articles for various magazines, Sanders has been nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes, once for his book A is for Ox: Violence, Electronic Media, and the Silencing of the Written Word and again for Alienable Rights: The Exclusion of African Americans in a White Man’s Land, 1619-2000. Two of his books have been finalists for the Oregon Book Award. In 2005, Sanders won a Fulbright Senior Scholar Grant to investigate the idea of the commons in Greece.

Sanders is interested in the shift from oral to literate cultures and the concomitant effects of that shift, ranging from memory to language, and religion to retribution. He helped start and has edited Grove: Poetry in Translation, serves as a contributing editor of North American Review, and frequently contributes to Cabinet. His book, The Green Zone: the Environmental Costs of Militarism, was selected as one of the top-ten censored stories of 2009. He is currently writing a book on the death of metaphor.

Anne-Marie Oliver is a cultural theorist, photographer, and documentarian. Since the late 80s, concentrating on the role of media in political movements, she has written and lectured on a number of topics including: graffiti, video, computer games, theater, and popular music. Interested in questions of aesthetics, representation, and iconology, particularly in relation to political, religious, and technological developments, Oliver is currently focusing on bio-aesthetics and surveillance, sousveillance, and counterveillance. Oliver has taught at MIT, Georgia Tech, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Earlier this year, Oliver presented a paper, “Some General Remarks on the Concept of Aesthetic Labor in the Regime of Ubiquitous Design” at the Society for European Philosophy and the Forum for European Philosophy (the European Institute of the London School of Economics), and she has delivered talks at the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs and the Muriel Gardiner Seminar on Psychoanalysis and the Humanities at Yale as well as at many other venues including Columbia, Princeton, Stanford, the University of Chicago, the University of Southern California, the University of Pennsylvania, and UCLA.

Oliver spent many years doing fieldwork and research in the Middle East, collecting and documenting political ephemera and underground media—work supported by the H.F. Guggenheim Foundation and, later, Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

In 2011, Oliver closed out the Visiting Artist Lecture Series at the Mason Gross School of Art at Rutgers and has done projects for the Time-Based Arts Festival of the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, the College Art Association, PDX Contemporary Art, GalleryHOMELAND, and the Museum of Contemporary Craft. She has been a guest critic at the Tisch School of the Arts, NYU; the California Institute of the Arts; and the London College of Communication, The University of the Arts London, and was recently selected to serve as a respondent for the 2011 Stone Summer Theory Institute, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Her work has appeared in Critical Inquiry, Partisan Review, The International Journal of Comparative Sociology, and Public Culture: Bulletin of the Center for Transnational Cultural Studies. Her co-authored book The Road to Martyrs’ Square, published by Oxford University Press (2004), is a Quill Award nominee. Oliver is currently working on a collection of Artforum essays by the late media theorist Vilém Flusser.

MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research (CT+CR)

The MA Program in Critical Theory and Creative Research (CT+CR), the first of its kind in the United States, is an accelerated 45-credit, seminar-based program that prepares students for new opportunities at the intersection of art, theory, and research. Located in the heart of Portland, a major center of creative risk-taking and social experimentation, the program combines the study of critical theory as a mode of socio-political critique and creative research as a process-driven form of inquiry, pushing both theory and research in new directions within the context of a 21st-century art school. The program is devoted to people and ideas and to a rethinking of the possibilities of cultural production; of arts-based research and research-based arts; of curatorial practice, documentary, and the Archive; and of social and political reconfiguration in relation to major sites of contemporary contestation. These sites range from social media to biotechnology, surveillance to sustainability, political terror to revolutionary social practices.

The program accepts applications from distinctive graduates in the arts, humanities, and sciences who are capable of thinking completely outside any box and interested in developing new combinations of art, theory, research, and critique. Students admitted into the program study toward an MA (one year + summer intensive) or a joint MA/MFA (three years + summer intensive). Through rigorous training in critical theory, research design and methods, cultural and institutional critique, and ethics, students develop skills and modes of thinking that cross the boundaries between the visual and verbal, linear and nonlinear, digital and analogue, theory and action. The foundation of the program is a complex of seminars and roundtables on interlocking themes led by PNCA faculty as well as by visiting artists, designers, critics, theorists, poets, and filmmakers. Past visitors to the school include Jacques Rancière, W.J.T. Mitchell, Art Spiegelman, Heike Kuehn, Susan Szenasy, Joe Sacco, and Lewis Hyde.

About Pacific Northwest College of Art
Since its founding in 1909, Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) has become a leader in innovative educational programs that connect students to a global perspective in the visual arts and design. In addition to its nine Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees, PNCA offers graduate education with an MFA in Visual Studies, a Low-Residency MFA in Visual Studies, an MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research, and an MFA in Collaborative Design, as well as an MFA in Applied Craft and Design developed in collaboration with the Oregon College of Art and Craft.

PNCA is actively involved in Portland’s cultural life through exhibitions and a vibrant public program of lectures and internationally recognized visiting artists, designers and creative thinkers. With the support of PNCA+FIVE (Ford Institute for Visual Education), the College has a partnership with the nationally acclaimed Museum of Contemporary Craft. For more information, visit