Sarah Parsons

Sarah Parsons
Sarah Parsons
Associate Professor
Department of Graduate Program in Art History, Department of Visual Art & Art History
Chair, Department of Visual Art & Art History

Professor Sarah Parsons teaches courses in the history and theory of photography, modern art, Canadian art, and art crime.

As the recipient of a research fellowship in the Prints and Drawings Department at the Art Gallery of Ontario, she researched the provenance of the drawing collection to ensure compliance with the Task Force Report on the Spoliation of Art during the Nazi/WWII era. She later served as a research consultant for the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in their legal proceedings with the Beaverbrook Foundation. This research informed the creation of one of the first university level courses on art crime.

Her current research focuses primarily on the history and theory of photography. From 2016-2018, she was part of the steering committee of a large-scale collaborative SSHRC-funded research project, The Family Camera Network ( The project explored the relationship of photography to the idea of family, whether of origin or choice, and generated an international conference, two special journal issues, and two collections of photographs and oral histories stored at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archive and the Royal Ontario Museum. Professor Parsons is also a founding member of a collaborative research group known as the Toronto Photography Seminar ( She is a co-editor of the scholarly journal, Photography and Culture (Taylor & Francis). She was the 2015/16 Massey York Fellowship at Massey College and previously received York’s University–Wide Teaching Award.

Selected Publications

Edited Volumes

2017 – S. Parsons ed. Abigail Solomon-Godeau, Photography After Photography: Gender, Genre, and History. Durham: Duke University Press.

Author, Preface: “May the Bridges We Burn Light the Way,” ix – xxv (17 pages)

2017 – S. Parsons and Jennifer Orpana eds. “Special Issue: Seeing Family,” Photography & Culture 10:2 (Summer 2017).

Co-author, Editorial: “Seeing Family,” 95 – 98.

2009 – S. Parsons, ed. Emergence: Contemporary Canadian Photography. Toronto: Gallery 44 and Ryerson University.

Author, Introduction, 10 – 14.

Articles and Essays

2016 – “William Notman’s Studio as a Space of Performance,” in Hélène Samson and Suzanne Sauvage ed., Notman: Visionary Photographer. Paris: McCord Museum, Montreal and Editions Hazan, 2016: 76 – 83.

2014 – “William Notman: Life & Work,” The Art Canada Institute, Series editors: Mark Cheetham and Sara Angel. (

2012 – “Privacy, Photography, and the Art Defense,” Revealing Privacy, Margherita Carucci ed. Peter Lang Publishers: 105 – 118.

2009 – “Sontag’s Lament: Emotion, Ethics, and Photography,” Photography & Culture 2:3 (Fall 2009): 289 – 302.

2008 – “Public/Private Tensions in the Photography of Sally Mann,” History of Photography 32:2 (Summer 2008): 123 – 136.

In Progress

In Press: “Race and Gender in Photography Studies,” (9000 words) Handbook of Photography Studies, Bloomsbury Press, forthcoming 2019.