Assistant Professor of American Art and Undergraduate Advisor
Art History

Erin Pauwels, PhD

Erin Pauwels is an historian of American art with special interest in photography and critical media theory. Her research focuses on art and visual culture in the United States during the 19th and early 20th centuries, with an emphasis on intermedial objects, the transcultural circulation of images and the intersections between elite and popular forms of expression. 
Her current book project, Napoleon Sarony and the Art of Living Pictures, examines the career of American photographer and printmaker Napoleon Sarony, taking this commercial artist’s ambition to infiltrate the Gilded Age art world as an opportunity to examine the cultural currency of fine art and creative authorship within the mass market picture industry of the 19th-century United States. She has also published articles on portraiture, celebrity culture and the history of American theater. Her work appears in the journals American Art, Panorama, History & Technology, as well as in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s 50th-Anniversary volume, Beyond the Face: New Perspectives on Portraiture.
Pauwels has received grants and fellowships from the Smithsonian American Art Museum; the National Portrait Gallery; the Henry Luce Foundation; the American Council of Learned Societies; the Wyeth Foundation for American Art; the Terra Foundation for American Art; the Houghton Library of Harvard University; the Harry Ransom Center at UT Austin; and the Huntington Library. Most recently, she has been named the Jay and Deborah Last Research Fellow in American Visual Culture at the American Antiquarian Society and was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship by the Winterthur Museum, Library & Garden for the 2019-20 academic year. 

Note: Erin Pauwels is on leave for the 2019-2020 school year.
PhD, Art History and American Studies, Indiana University, 2015
MA, Humanities and Social Thought, New York University, 2008

Selected Works
Pauwels, E. (2020). The Art of Not Posing: Napoleon Sarony and the Popularization of Pictorial
     Photography. In John Rohrbach (Ed.), Acting Out: Cabinet Cards and the Making of American
. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Pauwels, E. (2018a). Let Me Take Your Head: Photographic Portraiture and the Gilded Age Celebrity
     Image. In W. W. Reaves (Ed.), Beyond the Face: New Perspectives on Portraiture (pp. 136–155).
     London, UK: The Smithsonian Institution National Portrait Gallery in association with D Giles
Pauwels, E. (2018b). Backdrop of East Lynne: Charles Demuth’s Dramatic Abstraction. American Art
(3), 86–95.
Pauwels, E. (2015). Resetting the Camera’s Clock: Sarony, Muybridge and the Aesthetics of
     Wet-Plate Photography. History & Technology: An International Journal 31(4), 482–491.