2020-21 Terra Foundation Visiting Professor announced

Emily Burns

Dr Emily Burns will join the Department of History of Art at the University of Oxford in October as the next Terra Foundation for American Art Visiting Professor. She will also be a Visiting Fellow at Worcester College, Oxford. Dr Burns, whose post is generously supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art, is an Associate Professor at Auburn University and specialises in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American art, with a particular focus on how artists, images and objects circulated globally in this period, and how such mobility shaped discourses of modernism and nationalism.

Through the Terra Foundation Visiting Professorship, the study of American art is promoted from a global perspective at the University of Oxford and beyond. Each Visiting Professor engages in advanced research in the visual arts of the United States, delivers public lectures and organises symposia that encourage international research collaboration. They also offer courses to undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Oxford.

Dr Burns’ publications include a monograph, Transnational Frontiers: the American West in France (2018), which analyses appropriations of the American West in France in performance and visual and material culture in tripartite international relationships between the United States, France and the Lakota nation in the later nineteenth and early twentieth century. She is currently co-editing a volume on global impressionisms. During her tenure at Oxford, Dr Burns will complete a new monograph, Performing Innocence: Cultural Belatedness and U.S. Art in fin-de-siècle Paris, which will explore stereotypes of American cultural innocence in response to European expectations. She will also undertake research for a future project on Anglophone artists’ communities in Paris, focusing on interactions amongst U.S., British and Australian artists.

‘We are delighted that Dr Burns will be joining the Department of History of Art in the coming academic year,’ said Professor Geraldine Johnson. ‘Her research and teaching interests will provide new and exciting opportunities for collaboration in Oxford with colleagues working across a wide range of faculties and in several of our collections.’

Dr Burns said: ‘While finishing up writing my book about U.S. artists in late nineteenth-century Paris and perceptions of American culture as innocent and undeveloped, I'm also thrilled to be working with Oxford students, both at the undergraduate and Master's level, to share ideas about the history of U.S. art through its display and about the interwoven relationships between American art history and Native American art history. I'm also very excited to be able to encourage students to look closely at objects in Oxford including Powhatan's Mantle at the Ashmolean Museum and the Pacific Northwest totem poles at the Pitt Rivers Museum.’

‘We join the Department of Art History in welcoming Dr Emily Burns to the University of Oxford,’ says Terra Foundation for American Art Executive Vice President Amy Zinck. ‘The inspired conversations that will result from Dr Burns’ expertise and the University’s fully engaged resources will continue to diversify the stories told through art of the United States.’

The Terra Foundation for American Art is dedicated to fostering exploration, understanding and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States for national and international audiences. Recognising the importance of experiencing original works of art, the foundation provides opportunities for interaction and study, beginning with the presentation and growth of its own art collection in Chicago. To further cross-cultural dialogue on American art, the foundation supports and collaborates on innovative exhibitions, research and educational programmes. Implicit in such activities is the belief that art has the potential both to distinguish cultures and to unite them.