Lt. Claggett Wilson, Queer Masculinity, and the Formation of American Modernism


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Art History and Archaeology


An American artist best known for a 1919 watercolor series that depicts scenes of WWI, Claggett Wilson’s varied oeuvre includes oil paintings, stage sets, costumes, murals, and decorative interiors. Whether rendering the theater of operations or crafting spaces within which inhabitants performed fashioned identities, his work was heavily influenced by New York theater and cosmopolitan, salon-style communities. Using the tools of social art history and queer theory, this dissertation calls attention to Wilson’s historically specific mode of performativity, predicated on erudite camp humor, that employed a range of references, from historical aesthetic styles to contemporary racial stereotypes and political events, and spoke to particular interpretive communities that became increasingly narrow as his artistic projects moved from the New York art scene to midwestern domestic interiors and back.