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Stephanie Koerner

United Kingdom

Stephanie Koerner lectures at the University of Liverpool in the School of Architecture and Faculty of Engineering. She has lived a train commute away in Manchester for over twenty years, where she developed modules for the University of Manchester’s Archaeology and Art History programmes, and contributed to these programmes’ collectively taught modules. Koerner is the founding director of the Manchester based School – University programme, Mapping Interfaces. Careers in Geography, History, and Architecture. Koerner’s presentation in “The (In)visibility of Archaeological Heritage” workshop is based on her current research and teaching, and is rooted in such publications as The Unquiet Past. Risk Society, Lived Cultural Heritage, Re-Designing Reflexivity (2010), “Agency Against the Grain of Privatised Ethics and Globalise Indifference” (2010), “Revisiting the Dewey-Lippman (1925-7) Debate, Faro and Expertise in the Humanities”(2016), Multi-sensorial Perception in Wittgenstein and Mitchell. Sense-Scapes and the Epistemic and Ethical Significance of Alterity” (2018), “Picturing Wonder – Caring for Roots of Arts and Humanities” (2021). Koerner is currently completing book projects in Revisiting Pandora’s Hope. Technological Choice and Social Agency, and Seeing the ‘More than Meets the Eye’ Anew in Art and Science.


Wonder, Humility, Resonance, and Seeing the Hitherto Eclipsed Plurality of the Past Anew

“It is strange that culture-historical archaeologists hope to get more useful information from molecular biology… than from art history… [which is] dedicated to the understanding of the visual, in exploring how the visible is transformed in representations, or in the effects visual reality and representations have on us” (The Construction of Knowledge in Archaeology and Art History in Southeastern Europe programme 2022)

“We never understand a picture unless we grasp the ways in which its shows what cannot be seen…. This notion of picturing the invisible may seem less paradoxical if we remind ourselves that painters have always claimed to present us with more than meets the eye” (Mitchell Iconology. Image, Text, Ideology 1986: 39-40).

My contribution to the “(in)visibility of archaeological heritage” workshop is an exploration of sources, which bear upon three of the many questions its brief raises, in relation to the Research Programme’s engagement with “archaeology and art history.”

• What does it mean to ‘rethink’ (de-familiarise) paradigms for archaeological research, which systematically “make the material visible stand for the material invisible”; to foster puzzlement about the particular social and cultural circumstances under which paradigms that see the said ‘archaeological record’ as timeless truth ‘speaks for itself’ have been constructed?

• Why might answers to that question be a critical step towards fresh approaches to the “diversity and pluralism” of the materials, which these paradigms have long systematically eclipsed. And (relating to “cultural heritage discourses”) why might focusing on the extraordinary plurality of the past be of critical importance for identifying and addressing some of the most complex challenges, which are posed by (for instance) Faro’s aim to use “heritage as a resource for sustainable developments and quality of life in a constantly evolving society” (Council of Europe 2007) with humility and critical care (a term borrowed from medicine)?

• How might new collaborations between archaeology and art history, which are grounded in connotations that the ‘more that meets the eye’ in the histories of art and archaeology (Mitchell 1996) and share with thauma in ancient Greek art and epic poetry help us to see the diversity and plurality of material pasts anew?


Koerner, S. 2004. Agency Against the Grain of Privatised Ethics and Globalise Indifference, in A. Gardner (ed.), Agency Uncovered: Archaeological Perspectives on Social Agency, Power and Being Human. London: UCL Press, 211-240.

Koerner, S. 2013. Revisiting the Dewey-Lippman (1925-7) Debate, Faro and Expertise in the Humanities, in J. Schofield (ed.), Who Needs Experts? Countermapping Cultural Heritage. Aldershot:Ashgate, 13-43.

Koerner S. 2018. Multi-sensorial Perception in Wittgenstein and Mitchell. Sense-Scapes and the Epistemic and Ethical Significance of Alterity, in Bracker Jacobus, Johns, Stefanie and Seifert, Martina (eds.) Special issue VISUAL PASTA Journal for the Study of Past Visual Cultures Volume 5: 175 -206.