History of Art


Dr Stephanie Schwartz

Dr Stephanie Schwartz


Stephanie Schwartz

Stephanie Schwartz is a Lecturer in American modernism at University College London. She was the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in History and Theory of Photography at Bryn Mawr College (2007-2009) and the Andrew W. Mellow Research Forum Postdoctoral Fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art (2009-2010). She is the author of the forthcoming Cuba Per Diem: Walker Evans in and Out of Time. She is the editor of Modernism After Paul Strand, a special issue of the Oxford Art Journal (2015) and the Tate Modern In Focus project on Allan Sekula's Waiting for Tear Gas (2016). In addition to her writing on documentary film and photography in the US, Stephanie has published on photography and performance in Cuba. She is currently developing a new research project on street photography in the US since the 1970s.

Contact Details

Office:  407, 21 Gordon Square
Office hours: Tuesday 4-5pm and Friday 4-5pm
+44 (0)20 3108 4031 (internal 54031)
Email:  stephanie.schwartz@ucl.ac.uk



Lecturer in History of Art

Dept of History of Art

Faculty of S&HS

Research Themes

19th and 20th Century Photography and Photographic Theory, American Visual Culture, Postcolonial Theory, Media Theory, Contemporary Cuban Art

Art Design and Architecture


Research Summary

Stephanie is interested in photography and its histories, with a specific focus on the emergence of documentary work in the US in the 1930s. Her forthcoming book, Cuba Per Diem: Walker Evans in and Out of Time, takes Evans's Cuba portfolio as a starting point for a study of the intersection of photography and processes of Americanisation in the 1930s. Her analysis moves beyond the now standard framework for thinking through the stakes of Evans's work-that is, against the rise of art photography and the photographic production of the Farm Security Administration. In her study of Evans's portfolio, the work of such diverse authors and actors as James Agee, Charlie Chaplin, and Fredrick Wilson Taylor take centre stage. Their books, films and articles, she argues, also configure studies of labour key to understanding both the invention of documentary work and America.

Stephanie's study of the photographs and films of Paul Strand developed in the context of her expansion of the framework for thinking through our histories of documentary in America. In conjunction with the symposium 'Retracing America: Modernism After Paul Strand', which was co-organised with Barnaby Haran and funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art, she edited Modernism After Paul Strand, a special issue of Oxford Art Journal. In her introduction to this issue, Stephanie challenges us to un-write or write 'after' the now standard histories of photography in which Strand's work has come to represent the failures and pitfalls of modernism.

The exploration of the ways in which we write modernism's histories also frames another of Stephanie's research interests: artistic practices in Cuba in the 1980s and 1990s. Her writing on Tania Bruguera's early work as well as her forthcoming essay on Cuban postmodernism consider the ways in which writing history figured in Cuban art at the very moment many historians and critics insisted that History was over. She argues for the need to think through why it is that Cuba's visual artists have produced some of the most dynamic histories of the Cuban Revolution.

Stephanie is currently developing a research project on street photography in the US since the 1970s. Her initial consideration of this rather understudied genre is now published, 'Waiting for Tear Gas', Tate Modern In Focus, November 2016.


Selected Publications

Journal Articles

'Revolution and After', October 158 (Fall 2016): 126-154.

'Writing After', an introduction to 'Modernism After Paul Strand', a special issue of Oxford Art Journal 38, no.1 (March 2015): 1-10.

'Late Work: Walker Evans and Fortune', Oxford Art Journal 38, no.1 (March 2015): 117-141.

'Paul Strand's Living Labor', ARTMargins 2, no. 3 (October 2013): 3-30.

"Tania Bruguera: Between Histories', Oxford Art Journal 35, no. 2 (June 2012): 215-232.

Chapters in Books

'Is This What Democracy Looks Like? Tania Bruguera and the Politics of Performance', in The Companion to Modern and Contemporary Latin American and Latino Art, forthcoming.


'Waiting for Tear Gas', Tate: In Focus, November 2016.

'Making the News', International New Media Gallery

'The Long Take', Monumento máquina: Jorge Ribalta (Cáceres: Centro José Guerreo y Fundación Helga de Alvear, 2015): 82-99, 272-281.

'This Ain't The Swiss Family Robinson', Photoworks 20 (October 2013): 146-153.

'Between Labour and Intellect: Jorge Ribalta's Anonymous Work', Philosophy of Photography 3, no. 2 (2013): 358-365.


'Another Walker Evans: Photography, Writing and the Magazine Page', an interview with David Campany, in Krakow Photomonth Festival (Krakow, 2014), 36-65. (Reprinted in Photography & Culture 7, no. 2 (July 2014): 189-198.)

'Documentary's Future Past: A Conversation with Jorge Ribalta', Photoworks 18 (May 2012): 50-57. (Reprinted in Spanish in Luna Córnea 34 (2013): 324-339.)

'Chronicles: A Conversation with Manuel Piña', Third Text 110 (May 2011): 361-383.

Book Reviews

'Our Future', a review of Steve Edwards, Martha Rosler: The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems , Art Journal 72, no. (Summer 2013): 124-126.

"Beyond Looking," a review of Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera, edited by Sandra
Phillips and Jonathan Finn, Capturing the Criminal: From Mug Shot to Surveillance Society, Oxford Art Journal 33, no. 3 (November 2010): 389-92.

"Pictures, Again," a review of Words without Pictures, edited by Charlotte Cotton and Alex Klein,
Art Journal 68, no. 4 (Winter 2009): 87-9.

Teaching and Supervision

Stephanie teaches a range of undergraduate courses on photography and media including:

  • Cold War Cuba: Art and the Politics of Decolonization
  • The Principles and Pleasures of Surveillance
  • American Geographies: Figuring the West, 1848-1914
  • Histories of Photography
  • Documentary Work: American Media in the 1930s

She also teaches a MA Special Subject entitled 'American Documentary: Invention, Reinvention and Afterlives'.

She is interested in supervising dissertations on photography and its histories, modern American media, including theatre, performance, dance, television and film, and Cuban art.

Prospective students should contact her directly to discuss their proposals at: stephanie.schwartz@ucl.ac.uk.

Current PhD Students:

Freya Field-Donovan, A Strange American Funeral: Proletarian Dance in 1930s America.

Stephanie King, Towards an Instrumental Practice: Neo-Liberalist Britain, 1974-1997.

Kimberly Schreiber, American Prison Photography in the Long 1960s.

Rebecca Van Straten, Olivetti: Typing a History of Italian Photography.

Past PhD Students:

Larne Abse Gogarty, Rehearsals, Reproduction, and the Art of Living: Historicising Social Practise in the USA.

Andrew Witt, Documentary and its Afterlives: California in Catastrophe.

Wesley Aelbrecht, Urban Renewal and the Discourse(s) of Photography: The Development of an Artistic Mode of Production in Detroit and Chicago. (Second Supervisor/Bartlett School of Architecture)


Stephanie is a Lecturer in American art and photography at University College London. She received her PhD from Columbia University in 2007. She was the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in History and Theory of Photography at Bryn Mawr College from 2007-2009 and the Andrew W. Mellow Research Forum Postdoctoral Fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art from 2009-2010. She joined the History of Art department at UCL in 2010.