University of Calgary

Trevor Stark

  • Associate Professor

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Trevor Stark is Associate Professor of Art History and Graduate Program Director (2022-23) in the Department of Art and Art History. He completed his PhD in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University (2016). His teaching and research focuses on the emergence and development of the “avant-garde” in twentieth-century art, as a social formation and an aesthetic ideology.

His book titled Total Expansion of the Letter: Avant-Garde Art and Language after Mallarmé was published in 2020 by the MIT Press, as part of the October Books series ( It is a study of how language became both a visual medium and a metaphorical structure for certain artists of the European avant-gardes, from cubism to Dada. Stark traces the genealogy of this first “linguistic turn” to the poetics of Stéphane Mallarmé, who developed a critique of instrumental communication that was devoted to the contingency of the word and the world.

Download a PDF of the Introduction to Total Expansion of the Letter: Avant-Garde Art and Language. 

Total Expansion of the Letter: Avant-Garde Art and Language After Mallarmé

Stark’s research has been supported by fellowships from Columbia University, the Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Harvard University. His writing has appeared in journals including Art History, October, Texte zur Kunst, and The Burlington Magazine. Stark was co-chair (with Rachel Silveri) of two panels on “Avant-Gardes and Varieties of Fascism” at the 2016 College Art Association Conference. Stark is also the co-editor with Rachel Silveri of the second issue of Selva: A Journal of the History of Art devoted to "Reactionary Art Histories," for which they co-authored two essays. 

Current research topics include the legacies of serialism and Fascism in the cinema of Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub; Marcel Broodthaers’ encounter with the theory of reification; and a long-term project on Dada’s relation to the norms and forms of social rationalization, including the rise of finance capital and of administrative bureaucracy.

Stark was the 2020-21 Naomi Lacey Resident Fellow at the Calgary Institute for the Humanities, where he began work on a book titled "Weak Politics: Marcel Broodthaers between Poetry and Reification." He was the recipient of a SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2020-2022), supporting research on a book project tentatively titled "The Treason of the Clerks: Dada Rationalization."



Book Chapter

Journal Articles - Peer Reviewed


  • PhD - History of Art and Architecture
    Harvard University, 2016
  • AM - History of Art and Architecture
    Harvard University, 2012
  • MA - Art History & Communication Studies
    McGill University, 2009
  • BA (Hons) - Art History and Arts & Science Program
    McMaster University, 2006
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