Shawn Michelle Smith

Professor of Visual and Critical Studies at School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Shawn Michelle Smith is professor of Visual and Critical Studies at School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She studies the history and theory of photography and race and gender in visual culture.  She has written several books, including most recently Photographic Returns:  Racial Justice and the Time of Photography (forthcoming, Duke 2019) and At the Edge of Sight:  Photography and the Unseen (Duke 2013), which won the 2014 Lawrence W. Levine Award for best book in American cultural history from the Organization of American Historians and the 2014 Jean Goldman Book Prize from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Her other books are Photography on the Color Line:  W. E. B. Du Bois, Race, and Visual Culture (Duke 2004) and American Archives:  Gender, Race, and Class in Visual Culture (Princeton 1999).  She has co-edited with Sharon Sliwinski Photography and the Optical Unconscious (Duke 2017), co-edited with Maurice O. Wallace Pictures and Progress:  Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity (Duke 2012), and co-authored with Dora Apel Lynching Photographs (California 2007).  She guest edited a special issue of the journal MELUS on visual culture and race (2014), and she currently serves on the editorial boards of Photography and Culture and Journal of Visual Culture.  She has published essays in a number of edited collections and articles in Journal of Visual CultureAmerican ArtApertureASAP/JAfrican American ReviewNka:  Journal of Contemporary African ArtYale Journal of Criticism, and Legacy:  A Journal of American Women Writers, among others.  In the spring of 2018 she curated the exhibition Meridel Rubenstein, Eden Turned on Its Side at the University of New Mexico Art Museum.  She has been awarded fellowships from several institutions, including the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.  Smith is also a visual artist and her photo-based work has been exhibited in art galleries and university museums across the country.  Before coming to SAIC, she was an Associate Professor of American Studies at Saint Louis University and an Associate and Assistant Professor of English at Washington State University.