Margaretta Lovell will be coming to speak in the Seminar in New York and American Material Culture Wednesday, April 7, 2010, on “Thinking About Things: Studying Material Culture and Reading Objects.”

What do the chameleon terms Visual and Material Culture imply in terms of method and subject? And what do they imply in terms of decades of repositioning in the ever-changing river of academic inquiry and fashion? This paper addresses these questions not in the omniscient voice of theory but from the limited perspective of a practitioner. Focusing on physical traces of historic process in the American context, this paper ruminates on the ongoing project by cultural historians and others to enlist objects to help us understand, for instance, identity, time, and authority.

Margaretta Lovell is the Jay D. McEvoy Professor of American Art at the University of California, Berkeley, where she has been since 2003. Prior to that she has taught in the History of Art departments at Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Professor Lovell received her B.A. in English Literature at Smith College, her M.A. from the University of Delaware/Winterthur Museum in Early American Culture, and her Ph.D. from Yale University in American Studies.

Awards include fellowships, residencies, and grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Antiquarian Society, the Huntington Library, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Terra Foundation, the University of California (Chancellor’s and President’s Fellowships), and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her Art in a Season of Revolution: The Artist, the Artisan, and the Patron in Early America, published in 2005, was awarded the Eldredge Prize by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the pre-1800 book prize from the Organization of Historians of British Art; her earlier A Visitable Past: Views of Venice by American Artists 1860-1915, published in 1989, received the Ralph Henry Gabriel Prize of the American Studies Association. Dr. Lovell is currently working on Painting The Inhabited Landscape: Fitz H. Lane and Antebellum America.

Current research interests include eighteenth-century American painting and decorative arts with an emphasis on artists, artisans, their markets and their patrons; nineteenth-century American painting (especially landscape painting) and aesthetic theory; the ideology of c. 1900 design and architecture in England, Europe, and America; pre-contact Native American design and architecture; and vernacular aesthetic theory in late twentieth-and early twenty-first-century American photography and design.

Please join us in the Lecture Hall at 38 West 86th Street, between Columbus Ave and Central Park West, at 5:45pm for a reception before the talk.