My research interests include the history and theory of collecting, material culture studies methodology and historiography, craft and design history, women’s and gender studies, digital oral history, public humanities, and vernacular photography.

My forthcoming book is Material Politics: Francis P. Garvan, American Antiques, and the Alchemy of Collecting in the Interwar United States, from the University of Massachusetts Press. 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. Most recently I published “Collecting as Historical Practice and the Conundrum of the Unmoored Object” in The Oxford Handbook of History and Material Culture, edited by Ivan Gaskell and Sarah Anne Carter. Currently I am co-organizing Voices in Studio Glass History: Art and Craft, Maker and Place, and the Critical Writings and Photography of Paul Hollister, a multi-media, web-based digital exhibition and publication that rethinks and reinterprets the history of postwar American studio glass. Works-in-progress include Americana Redux: Materializing Multiculturalism during the United States Bicentennial of 1976, an examination of how social and political activists mobilized material culture to challenge and redefine national identity. In addition, I direct the Bard Graduate Center Craft and Design Oral History Project [http://bgccraftartdesign.org/] a digital archive of interviews with contemporary craftspeople and designers conducted by graduate students in the seminar 693. Craft and Design in the USA, 1945-present.

Selected Recent Publications

“Collecting as Historical Practice and the Conundrum of the Unmoored Object.” In The Oxford Handbook of History and Material Culture. Ed. Ivan Gaskell and Sarah Anne Carter. Oxford University Press, 2020.

Co-author, with Pat Kirkham and Amy F. Ogata, “Europe and North America 1900-1945,” and co-author, with Pat Kirkham, Christian A. Larsen, Sarah A. Litchtman, and Tom Tredway, “Europe and North America 1945-2000.” In History of Design, Decorative Arts and Material Culture, 1400-2000, edited by Pat Kirkham and Susan Weber. Yale University Press, 2013.

“Interpreting Vernacular Photography, Finding ‘Me’: A Case Study.” In Using Visual Evidence, edited by Richard Howells and Robert W. Matson. Open University Press/McGraw Hill, 2009.

“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.

Selected Courses

548 Women Designers in the USA, 1900-2020

606 The Colonial Revival

622 Issues in Design History and Material Culture Studies

693 Craft and Design in the USA, 1945 to the Present

834 American Collectors and Collections

845 American Craft, Design, and Folk Art in the 1920s and 1930s

877 Picturing Things: Photography as Material Culture