Nicholas Mirzoeff is here.
Initially I did not understand why everyone was so very taken with him. It is just another person, another Professor presenting some lecture on some topic using some words that I don't understand.
Now, I can comprehend why he is the academic equivalent of a rock star. And he is very nice, too.
Visual Culture Studies is not the most widely known field of research. When people ask what it is, I am not even entirely sure myself, although this searching for the visual and what it means is what I am passionate about. Often VCS or just Visual Studies is hidden away in some corner, stashed behind the star attraction that is graphic design or fine art or even art history. We are a field without clear parameters, and as such revel in interdisciplinarity (ja, I know, that is not really a word, but the perks of not knowing what you are doing for sure are the ability to add -ity and -ness whenever you feel like something needs distinction).
Now, with a NYU professor coming to South Africa, coming to speak to US, it validates this existing in the corner and this incomprehension by others (and perhaps by ourselves, too, at least in my case). Having someone come and say, hey, the way you are thinking and questioning and wondering is great, we need to re-evaluate what we know, we are on the cusp of a revolution in the way the world is seen, well, that is like a pat on the shoulder from a father who never shows any emotion.
It's a much bigger deal than I had initially realised.