Penn has an unusually rich synergy about visual media, particularly prints but also, by extension, cinema. Julie Davis studies Japanese prints of the past quarter-millennium, and Karen Redrobe's courses on film extend consideration of public media to the moving image, both animation and cinema.
Both Davis and Silver also actively engage with the lively Penn History of the Book community, which meets in a weekly interdisciplinary workshop at the Kislak Rare Book Center of the Penn Library. The Kislak Center, which also includes medieval manuscripts, is a very welcoming resource for students of all periods and regions. Moreover, Penn faculty have produced several print exhibitions in conjunction with the PMA, in addition to the Ross Gallery and Penn Library, most recently one curatorial seminar by Davis on modern Japanese landscape prints and another on Dreyfus-era media by André Dombrowski.
Michael Leja’s current work studies the expansion of print culture to a mass audience in the 19th century, when new print technologies collaborated and competed with older ones. He has published on lithographs and the penny press, mezzotint simulations of daguerreotypes, print connoisseurship in illustrated magazines, and photomechanical reproductions in mass market magazines.
Kaja Silverman’s recent work reconceptualizes the history of photography from the nineteenth century to the contemporary period. Her recent graduate seminars have addressed the relationship between photography and painting, installation and video art, pictorial photography, photo-painting, and large-format photography. She teaches the annual Art Now lecture for undergraduate and MFA students that looks at the role of photography in contemporary art across mediums.
Additionally, Penn has very close connections to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, whose Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs hosts class visits and individual study. Penn graduate students of advanced standing have the opportunity for a funded one-year internship, the Zigrosser Fellowship, in the PMA Department. The PMA also hosted a traveling show by Silver on mural-sized prints of the sixteenth century.