As a teacher of art history, my goal is to train students to think critically about their visual world and to ask questions about how that world is constructed. The discipline of art history combines language and history skills with the ability to analyze and think critically about objects. My own research, which is strongly interdisciplinary, grounds the history of the post-Civil War era in the monuments that appeared to honor the war’s soldiers. In the classroom, I aim to teach students how to look at art objects, describe them effectively, and use the evidence drawn from visual analysis in clear and effective writing. And in so doing, I invite students to make connections between course material and the world around them.

The key to this process is object-based learning. In addition to instruction in the classroom, where my lectures are grounded in visual analysis and group discussion, I use all available resources to teach with objects whenever possible. I arrange frequent visits to museum and university collections so that students can experience works of art and material culture beyond the projected image. These field trips have the added benefit of demonstrating how the discipline of art history works outside the classroom, engaging students with questions of how museums display, contextualize, and manage their collections. I have also begun a collection of nineteenth-century photographs and prints to use as examples when discussing these technologies. All of this serves to help students to draw connections between their world and the works of art that appear in class.

My teaching collection of nineteenth-century photography

My teaching collection of nineteenth-century photography

In recent courses, my students have:

  • Given weekly gallery talks on individual artworks contained in a world-class collection of American art
  • Learned to distinguish between early photographic processes such as the daguerreotype, ambrotype, and tintype, using objects from my personal teaching collection
  • Examined artifacts of Civil War-era print culture housed in the university museum
  • Considered the relationship between their self-presentation on social media sites and the conventions of portrait painting in early American life
  • Discussed the merits of living history with Civil War reenactor Audrey Scanlan-Teller
  • Written exhibition reviews of an important new show on American Impressionism
  • Analyzed the use of Civil War material culture in recent films set in the Civil War era
  • Designed their own exhibitions on aspects of Civil War history and culture using objects from the era
  • Written Wikipedia articles on underrepresented women artists in order to increase access to information about the careers of American women in art


  • Art History I & II
  • American Art to 1945
  • Civil War Stuff: Writing History through Objects
  • War and Art in America
  • World Photography Since 1839
  • Women in American Art

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