History of Art


Dr Stephanie Schwartz



Stephanie Schwartz

Stephanie Schwartz is an associate professor in History of Art at University College London. Her writing on photography and film has appeared in October, Oxford Art Journal and ARTMargins. Stephanie is the author of Walker Evans: No Politics (University of Texas Press, 2020). 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). Stephanie recently finished editing a special issue on street photography for the journal Arts, which includes her essay on Martha Rosler’s photomontages and the time of protest. She is currently working on a new project on Allan Sekula’s ‘war work’ for MACK books. Provisionally titled Allan Sekula’s War Prayer and Other Stories, the book attends to the centrality of war stories to Sekula’s work, specifically those written by the narrators of America’s Civil War. 

Contact Details

Office: 407, 21 Gordon Square
Office hours: Wednesday, 2:30-3:00pm. Book an appointment here
+44 (0)20 3108 4031 (internal 54031)
Email:  stephanie.schwartz@ucl.ac.uk


Associate Professor in History of Art

Dept of History of Art

Faculty of S&HS

Research Themes

Photography and its histories; documentary; American modernism.

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 since the 1930s. Her first book, Walker Evans: No Politics (University of Texas Press, 2020), offers a sweeping reinterpretation of Evans’s prolific work. Taking seriously Evans’s refusal to act or work politically, Walker Evans challenges the established claim that American documentary finds its origins in the politics of the New Deal. Likewise, it questions the assumption that Evans’s work is necessarily about the Great Depression. Framed by a study of the work that Evans completed in Cuba during the revolution of 1933, the book situates Evans’s work in a long history of Americanisation.

Stephanie is currently developing two related research projects on the genre of landscape. The first, Martha Rosler: Field Work, considers how and why landscape became a political figure in Rosler’s documentary. It focuses on several moving image works that Rosler made in the early 1970s, including, most significantly, Flower Fields (1974). Shot through the window of a car as it traverses the highway connecting Canada to Mexico, the film records laborers tilling fields. Flower Fields makes visible what often goes unseen by acknowledging the frames and screens through which viewers are trained to see. These include not only the car and the camera but landscape. Taking Flower Fields as her starting point, Stephanie seeks to trace a history of American modernism in which land and labour are not only seen but seen through the processes of their abstraction, including enclosure.

Stephanie’s second project, The Native and the National: Fascism and Documentary in the New Deal Era, considers the work of the international film collective Frontier Films. Focusing on the collective’s film production, Native Land (1942), this project will situate documentary work in this period under the spectre of fascism. Central to this research will be a reconsideration of the claim that the reinvention of the nation in the wake of the Depression relied on the representation of a fascist enemy abroad. Attending to the realities of fascism ‘at home’ in the 1930s and 1940s, this research will also attend to contemporary concerns about renewed calls for a ‘native land’ and the rise of fascism in the United States today. In short, Stephanie’s current research seeks to address the centrality of settler colonialism, enclosure and process of privatisation to the formation and legacy of American modernism.


Selected Publications


Allan Sekula’s War Prayer and Other Stories. London: MACK, forthcoming.

Walker Evans: No Politics. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2020.

Journal Articles

‘Street Photography Reframed’, Arts 10, 29 (2021): 1-12.

‘Martha Rosler’s Protest’, Arts 9, 92 (2020): 1-20. 

‘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 Alejandro Anreus, Robin Greeley, and Megan Sullivan (eds) Companion to Modern and Contemporary Latin American and Latino Art, eds. (Oxford: Blackwell, 2020).

‘The Face of Protest’, in Hilde van Gelder (ed) Dissembled Images: Contemporary Art After Allan Sekula (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2019), 212-227.

‘La toma larga (The Long Take)’, Monumento máquina: Jorge Ribalta (Cáceres: Centro José Guerrero y Fundación Helga de Alvear, 2015), 82-99, 272-281.


‘Lightness and Lethargy’ in Jordi Barreras, Already But Not Yet (Rome: Punctum Press, 2020).

‘Monumental Failure: The Face of Bigotry’, Art Monthly 471 (June 2018): 38-39.

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

'Making the News', International New Media Gallery

'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.


‘Oral History Interview with Martha Rosler, December 17-18, 2019’, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institute, forthcoming.

'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:
•    The Principles and Pleasures of Surveillance
•    American Geographies: Figuring the West, 1848-1914
•    Histories of Photography

She also teaches a MA Special Subject entitled ‘American Documentary: Inventions, Reinventions and Afterlives’.

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

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

Current PhD Students:

Jacqueline Mabey, ‘This Must Be the Place: Mapping Artistic Kinship and Economic Change in Downtown New York, 1973-1987’.

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

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

Freya Field-Donovan, ‘A Strange American Funeral: Dance and Technological Reproduction in 1940s America’.

Past Research Students:

Stephanie King, ‘The Less Acceptable Face of Capitalism: A Study of British Documentary During the Rise of Thatcherism’, awarded December 2019.

Andrew Witt, ‘On the Edge of Catastrophe: California and the Dystopian Image, c. 1970’, awarded November 2016.

Larne Abse Gogarty, ‘Rehearsals, Reproduction, and the Art of Living: Historicising Social Practise in the USA’, awarded June 2015.


Stephanie is an Associate Professor 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.