What does it mean to consider visual materials as material culture or to think about material culture as visual? What can these approaches tell us about objects, images, and their relationship in the nineteenth century? While visual culture studies have emphasized the act of seeing as embedded within disciplinary or “scopic” regimes, material culture studies have long analyzed artifacts to understand their expressive function in society. However, this situation has been changing. The convergence of visual and material culture offers the opportunity to consider the possibilities of such a scholarly turn. Participants in this symposium will consider these issues from a variety of fields.

Jeffrey L. Collins
Bard Graduate Center

David Jaffee
Bard Graduate Center


Chair: Catherine E. Kelly, University of Oklahoma

Erika Piola
Library Company of Philadelphia
Making the Invisible Visible: Reading Nineteenth-Century Raised Printing for the Blind

Christopher Lukasik
Purdue University
The Matter of Images: Embellishment, Textual Illustration, and the Literary Annuals of the 1830s and 40s


Chair: Zara Anishanslin, College of Staten Island, CUNY

Layla Bermeo
Harvard University; Smithsonian American Art Museum
War Paintings: The Making and Materiality of Nineteenth Century Comanche Shields

Elizabeth Hutchinson
Barnard College, Columbia University
Framing Catlin’s Indian Gallery


Chair: Joshua Brown, Graduate Center, CUNY

Matthew Fox-Amato
Washington University in St. Louis
Civil War Iconoclasm

Annie Rudd
Columbia University
Posing a Problem: Studio Portraiture, the Objects of Photography, and the Pursuit of Genuine Likeness, 1839-1900