American Art Histories: Framing Race after the Civil War


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Art History


In the decade after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, art history professors were hired for the first time at Vassar, Yale, and Harvard, and three major encyclopedic art museums were founded—the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Using a series of artworks juxtaposed in exhibitions and lectures as case studies, this dissertation shows how concepts of race were defined and redefined by art histories between 1864 and 1877. The study is thereby both an institutional critique that exposes racial politics as a driving force behind the development of art history as well as a cultural history of the field informed by critical race theory.