Tara Mayer

Instructor, UBC Department of History

Defining, promoting, and implementing an agenda for visual literacy is a central part of Tara Mayer's scholarly agenda at UBC. She has done so by organizing a synposium on teaching through material culture, by driving the development of a new digital tool for Interactive Image Annotation in and beyond the classroom, or by providing new, hands-on research opportunities for undergraduate students in local museum collections. 

She is also engaged in a project that examines student responses to historical controversies. The question of how to best address controversy is especially acute for History instructors, since so much of the human past is conflictual and because students often feel personally invested in particular historical narratives about their nations, origins, religions, entitlements, or plights. Her project explores these issues and how to evaluate different approaches through a pilot study on teaching the Partition of India.


Primary Recipient Awards

International Research Roundtables, Tara Mayer, 2019

Tara Mayer
Dominic Lopes

Visual Literacy: Seeing, Making and Reading Images across the Disciplines

Within the humanities, a new visual literacy is important not just to better understand and use existing images within our research, but also to create new types of images that can point us towards fresh avenues of research or communicate our findings more effectively. As the use of “big data” has opened up new opportunities in the sciences, the visual representation of this data has become as important a concern as its collection and computation. Resultantly, scientists have developed careful practices around using images as means of communication, which makes them especially sensitive to the power and pitfalls of visual language. Combining such insights with the questions, tools, and priorities of humanities research holds the promise to provoke new methods and ideas on all sides.

This roundtable explores how scholarship from within and beyond the humanities can combine to develop and promote a new visual literacy that responds to the challenges and opportunities of this new, visual information revolution.  Its central question is how a more holistic and informed engagement with images can open up new avenues of research.