Tell Me a Story: Narrative and Orality in Nineteenth-Century American Visual Culture


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Department of Art History


The project examines issues of narrative and storytelling as they apply to nineteenth-century visual culture, focusing on paintings and illustrations produced between 1830 and 1870. There are three main subjects for investigation: 1) the American viewer’s experience of objects and the propensity to tell stories about and in front of works of art; 2) storytelling as a process engaged in by the artist, with focus on self-conscious works constructing stories about telling stories; and 3) stories about art and the ways in which nineteenth-century art criticism and popular fiction treated images and objects. Narrative as process and the cultural history of sound and orality as part of the multisensory experience of an artwork will be the theoretical basis of this approach.