Marni A. Sandweiss will speak in the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Seminar on New York and American Material Culture on Tuesday, September 29, 2015. Her talk is entitled “Thinking with a Photograph: Alexander Gardner at Ft. Laramie, 1868.”

Marni A. Sandweiss is a historian of the United States, with particular interests in the history of the American West, visual culture, and public history. A Professor of History at Princeton University, Dr. Sandweiss teaches courses on the history of the American West and on narrative writing, and currently heads a research project on Princeton and Slavery. She serves as faculty advisor to graduate student groups working in the fields of public history and Native American Studies.

Dr. Sandweiss received her Ph.D. in History from Yale University and began her career as a photography curator at the Amon Carter Museum in Ft. Worth, TX. She later taught American Studies and History at Amherst College for twenty years before joining the Princeton faculty in 2009. She is the author or editor of numerous books on American history and photography. Her publications include Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception across the Color Line (2009), a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History and the National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography, and Print the Legend: Photography and the American West (2002), winner of the Organization of American Historians’ Ray Allen Billington Award for the best book in American frontier history and the William P. Clements Award. Her other works include Laura Gilpin: An Enduring Grace (1986), winner of the George Wittenborn Award for outstanding art book, and the co-edited volume The Oxford History of the American West (1994), winner of the Western Heritage Award and the Caughey Western History Association prize for the outstanding book in western history. The recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Rockefeller Foundation, she consults widely on matters related to history education and the use of visual images for historical research and writing.

Focusing on a single photograph made at the Peace Treaty negotiations held at Fort Laramie in 1868, this talk explores the ways in which a still image can — and cannot — convey the richness of a dynamic past. While a photograph may convey a “decisive moment,” more often it does not. How then can we use a photograph as a primary source document to understand the world from which it emerged? Alexander Gardner’s photograph of six federal Peace Commissioners and a Lakota child offers a way into more than a century of American violence, arguments about race, and discussions about who could and could not be a citizen of the United States.

RSVP is required.