Catherine WhalenAssistant Professor
Craft and Design History
History and Theory of Collecting
Ph.D. American Studies, Yale University
M.A. Winterthur Program in Early American Culture, University of Delaware
B.S. Design and Environmental Analysis, Cornell University
My research interests encompass the history and theory of collecting; material culture studies historiography, methodology, and pedagogy; craft and design history; and vernacular photography. My current book project is Refined Materials for a Modern Nation: Francis P. Garvan, the Chemical Industry and the Politics of Collecting American Antiques in the Interwar United States. Rather than offer a conventional biography, I show how this outspoken ideologue’s political and business dealings informed his collecting practices and unpack the hefty symbolic freight that he believed American antiques carried in service of what was, by the 1930s, an ambitious project of cultural and economic nationalism. By doing so, I elucidate how objects perform a material politics; that is, enact political agendas and operate as an important form of cultural power.
Selected Recent Publications:
- "Interpreting Vernacular Photography, Finding ‘Me’: A Case Study." Using Visual Evidence. Ed. Richard Howells and Robert W. Matson. Maidenhead and New York: Open University Press/ McGraw Hill, 2009.
- "Wallace Nutting and the Invention of Old America: An Exhibition Review." Winterthur Portfolio 39, no. 2/3 (2004): 173-181.
- "American Decorative Arts Studies at Yale and Winterthur: The Politics of Gender, Gentility, and Academia." Studies in the Decorative Arts 9, no. 1 (Fall-Winter 2001-2002): 108-44.
- "From the Collection: The Pickman Family Vues d'Optique." Winterthur Portfolio 33, no. 1 (1998): 75-88.
- "Philadelphia Cabinetmaker Isaac Jones and the Vansyckel Bedchamber Suite." Nineteenth Century 18, no. 2 (1998): 20-24.
Catherine Whalen's courses include:
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