Coastal Modern: Art and the Lowcountry, 1900-1950s


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


What did modernism look like in the coastal Southeast? The Lowcountry, which stretches along the shores of Georgia and South Carolina, played host in the first half of the twentieth century to an unacknowledged strand of artistic modernism and a regional variation of modernization. Through dazzling case studies, this dissertation considers how the Lowcountry’s Southern marginality and coastal liminalities led to more fluid aesthetic practices than normative accounts of American modernism allow. Close attention is paid to the ways in which such artistic and cultural activities engaged the region’s tourism and fishing industries. Drawing on social art history and the environmental humanities, this project therefore introduces a critical coastal methodology in order to remap the canon of American art. Whereas prevailing modernist narratives observe artistic differences between cities and the countryside, scholarly attention is needed to address how artists in coastal areas have been uniquely positioned to contribute to twentieth-century American art.