Pictographic Motifs: Memory and Masculinity on the Upper Missouri


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Art and Art History


Art historical studies of portraiture raise philosophical questions regarding issues of social performance, gender identification, and the conception of selfhood. This dissertation examines drawings and painted bison robes in which portraits play a role, seen as conscious and unconscious reflections of the shifting terms of cultural engagement between Upper Missouri indigenous artists and Euro-Americans in the first four decades of the nineteenth century. Analyzing painted robes and drawings by Mandan artists Mató-Tópe and Sih-Chida, paintings by Karl Bodmer and George Catlin, and the expeditionary journals of Prince Alexander Maximilian zu Wied, this study foregrounds the body as a site of sensory experience to visualize how the indigenous masculine body was located in a system of discipline and control that the indigenous artists otherwise rejected. Collectively, these objects, portraits, and primary texts suggest the complex nature of masculine identities negotiated by both Natives and non-Natives.