Personal Statement

Shawn Michelle Smith studies the history and theory of photography, and race and gender in visual culture. She has written several books, including most recently At the Edge of Sight: Photography and the Unseen (Duke 2013), which won the 2014 Lawrence W. Levine Award for best book in American cultural history from the Organization of American Historians and the 2014 Jean Goldman Book Prize from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her other books are Photography on the Color Line: W. E. B. Du Bois, Race, and Visual Culture (Duke 2004), and American Archives: Gender, Race, and Class in Visual Culture (Princeton 1999). She has guest edited a special issue of the journal MELUS on visual culture and race (2014), co-edited with Maurice Wallace Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity (Duke 2012), and co-authored with Dora Apel, Lynching Photographs (California 2007). She currently serves on the editorial boards of Photography & Culture and ELN: English Language Notes, and in the past she has served on the editorial boards of American Literature and Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. She has published essays in several edited collections and articles in the Journal of Visual Culture, American Art, African American Review, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, Yale Journal of Criticism, and Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, among others. She has been awarded fellowships from several institutions, including the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Smith is also a visual artist and her photo-based work has been exhibited in art galleries and university museums across the country. Before coming to SAIC, she was an Associate Professor of American Studies at Saint Louis University, and an Associate and Assistant Professor of English at Washington State University.

"Adaptations of Vernacular Photography": interview

Select Publications

Artist's Statement: In the Crowd [PDF]

Afterimages: White Womanhood, Lynching, and the War in Iraq [PDF]

"Looking at One's Self through the Eyes of Others": W.E.B. Du Bois's Photographs [PDF]

"Baby's Picture is Always Treasured": Eugenics and the Reproduction of Whiteness [PDF]

Guest Editor's Introduction: Visual Culture and Race [PDF]

The Half of Whiteness [PDF]

Booker T. Washington's Photographic Messages [PDF]


Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Institute.