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Dr Stephanie Schwartz
Dr Stephanie Schwartz profile picture
  • Associate Professor
  • Dept of History of Art
  • Faculty of S&HS
Stephanie Schwartz is a Lecturer in American modernism at University College London. She was the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Historya nd Theory of Photography at Bryn Mawr College (2007-2009) and the Andrew W. Mellon Research Forum Postdoctoral Fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art (2009-2010).
Research Summary
Stephanie is interested in photography and its histories, with a specific focus on the emergence of documentary work in the United States in the 1930s. Her forthcoming book, Cuba Per Diem: Walker Evans In and Out of Time, takes Walker Evans's Cuba portfolio as the starting point for a study of the intersection of photography and processes of Americanisation in the 1930s. Her analysis moves beyond the now standard framework for thinking through the stakes of Evans's work--namely, against the rise of art photography in the early twentieth century and the photographic production of the Farm Security Administration (1937-1942). In her study, the work of such diverse authors and actors as James Agee, Charlie Chaplin and Fredrick Winslow Taylor take centre stage. Their books, films and articles, she argues, also configure studies of labour as key to understanding the inventions of both documentary work and America.

Stephanie's study of the photographs and films of Paul Strand developed in the context of her expansion of the framework for thinking our histories of documentary in America. In conjunction with the symposium 'Retracing America: Modernism After Paul Strand', which she co-organised with Barnaby Haran, she edited Modernism After Paul Strand, a special issue of the Oxford Art Journal. In her introduction to the issue, Stephanie calls on scholars to challange the now standard histories of photography in which Strand's work has come to represent the failures and pitfalls of modernism. The issue radically repositions Strand's work through opposing or competing histories of moderism.

The exploration of the ways in which we write modernism's histories also frames Stephanie's other research project: the study of artistic practices in Cuba in the 1980s and 1990s. Her writing on the early work of Tania Bruguera as well as the practices of the short-lived collective ABTV considers the ways in which writing history configured Cuban art at the very moment in which many historians and critics insisted that History was over. She argues for the need to think through why is is that Cuba's visual artists have produced some of the most dynamic histories of the Cuban revolution.

Stephanie is currently developing a new research project on photography and protest in the US since the 1970s. Her initial consideration of this subject appeared in the Tate Modern In Focus study of Allan Sekula's Waiting for Tear Gas (white globe to black) (1999-2000). She was recently awarded an Arts Writers Grant from the Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation as well as a Getty Library Grant to pursue related research on Martha Rosler's video work in the late 1970s.
Teaching Summary
Stephanie teaches a range of undergraduate courses on photography and modernism, including: 'The Principles and Pleasures of Surveillance'; 'American Geographies: Figuring the West, 1848-1914'; 'Histories of Photography'; 'Cold War Cuba: The Art and Politics of Decolonization'. She also teaches an MA Special Subject entitled 'American Documentary: Inventions, Reinventions and Afterlives'.

She is interested in supervising doctoral research on photography and its histories, modern American media, including theatre, performance, dance, television and film, and Cuban art.
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