About Us



Karen Stanworth

BFA (Concordia), BEd (McGill), MA (York), PhD (Manchester)

Associate Professor, Department of Visual Art & Art History, Full Time

Scholarly Interests
Visual Culture and Identity; Museum History and Pedagogies; History of Visual Culture in Canada; Visual Rhetoric and Nationalism, Group Portraiture; Teaching of Visual Arts and Art History in Higher Education

Professor Stanworth's teaching and research address issues of knowledge formation within visual culture, with a particular emphasis on the representation of identities, and the paradox of belonging and difference.

She has published on topics related to visual culture and pedagogy; higher education and the arts; feminist cultural theory and production; and narrative and history. Her articles have appeared in Journal of Canadian Studies, Art History (UK), Histoire Sociale/Social HistoryResources in Feminist Research,Symploke Journal of Comparative Literature and Theory and University of Toronto Quarterly.

Dr. Stanworth's most recent publication is the book Visibly Canadian: Imaging Collective Identities in the Canadas, 1820-1910 (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2014). It examines the ways in which visual culture participates in the construction and mediation of social identities, particularly in early museum pedagogies, visual spectacle and the representation of group identities. Other current research includes curatorial projects at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives and case studies examining bawdy images in 20th century Canada.

Dr. Stanworth is appointed jointly to the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design and the  Facuity of Education, and is associated with the Graduate Program in Interdisciplinary Studies, Graduate Program in Art History and Visual Culture, and Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies at York.

Recent Publications

Visibly Canadian: Imaging Visual Identities in the Two Canadas, 1820-1910, Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2014. Beaverbrook Canadian Art History Series, 456 p.

Imaging Home: Resistance, Migration, Contradiction, Toronto: CLGA Publications, 2014, 32 p. ISBN 978-0-9917780-1-0. Editor and contributor.

“Excesses of the Bawdy Body: John Wentworth Russell and his modern girls, 1927-35,” in Julia Skelly, ed. The Uses of Excess in Visual and Material Culture: 1600-2010, London: Ashgate Press, 2014.

“Revisioning the ‘Culture of Nature’ in Canadian Visual Culture Studies: John Russell and An/Other Case of Modern Art,” Journal of Canadian Studies, 47:3 (2013), 67-92.

“Picturing the Land”, Critical Review of M. McKay, Picturing the Land. Narrating Territories in Canadian Landscape Art, 1500-1950, Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011. In Journal of Canadian Art History, XXXII: 2 (2012) 153-157

"Ethics of Knowledge: Education, tradition and post-modernity”, web exclusive article, Academic Matters, July, 2010; [review essay, Art School (Propositions for the 21st Century), Steven H. Madoff, ed. MIT Press, 2009].

 “Interdisciplinarity in the work of Francoise Sullivan”, in Caught in the Act: An Anthology of Performance Art by Canadian Women, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005, 387-396.


“Tugging at the Edges: Tracing Lesbian Lives in and near the Gay Archives, 1950-1980,” Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Toronto, May 22-25, 2014.

“Queer Exceptionality as the Everyday: Narrating History as Visual Performance,” University Art Association, Banff Centre for the Arts, Alberta, Oct. 2013.

“Picturing Nude Women: John Russell and the Painting of Toronto Islands as a Scene of  Shame and Disrepute, 1935,” University Art Association of Canada, Concordia University, Montreal, Nov. 2012.

“Ephemeral Support: Visual Culture and the Contradictions of Race and Place in Queen  Victoria’s 60th Jubilee in Montréal, 1897", University Art Association of Canada, Carleton University, Ottawa, Oct. 2011.

“Getting a Wriggle On”: Popular Culture, Identity Politics, and Local Ambitions in Montreal’s Jubilee Parade, 1897”, Popular Culture Association of Canada, Niagara Falls, Ont. May, 2011.

“We’re Not Just What We Seem: Paradoxical Identities at a ‘Young Ladies’ School, Montreal, 1873”, University Art Association of Canada, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ont, Oct. 2010.

“The Colonial Museum in the Two Canadas: Narratives, Objects, Subjects”, The Archive and Everyday Life, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, May 2010.

“Staging a Siege: the spectacular representation of citizenship”, Instruction, Amusement and Spectacle: Popular Shows and Exhibitions 1800-1914, University of Exeter, April 2009

“Morality and Modernity: the discursive production of the immoral body in a painting by John Russell”, University Art Association of Canada, Victoria, B.C, 2005

“The Indiscipline of Methodologies in Cultural Studies”, Cultural Studies Association (US), Tuscon, Arizona, 2005

“Visual Rhetoric and Representation in the Portrait of George Washington and Family”, Inventio: ReReading the Rhetorical Tradition, University of Waterloo, 2003

Organized session on “Visual Construction of Social Identity in Canada, 1800-1939″, University Art Association of Canada, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2000

“Images in Texts; Images in Context – early illustration of school book primers”, Canadian History of Education Society Conference, London, Ontario, 2000.