Interior Impressions: Printed Material in the Nineteenth-Century American Home


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Art History


This dissertation considers the medium of print and its impact on the American home from 1830 to 1890. During this period, engravings populated cherished albums or hung on walls; images cut from periodicals and books became part of decoupaged furniture; tiny, colorful pictures called scrap appeared on greeting cards, in scrapbooks, and on vases and screens; printed fabrics upholstered furniture and enlivened quilts; and bold, printed wallpapers enveloped entire rooms. Aided by recent theoretical work on materiality and making, this study focuses particularly on homemakers’ embodied engagement with printed material, especially as it related to domestic craft and interior design. It argues that print simultaneously promoted and limited creativity, mediated between individual and collective identities, and shaped the way people experienced and transformed their visual and material surroundings. Ultimately, print provides a lens through which to explore how industrialization and creativity both clashed and coexisted in the nineteenth-century American home.