Sarah Parsons

Sarah Parsons


Associate Professor
Department of Visual Art & Art History
Chair, Department of Visual Art & Art History
History of Photography, Canadian Art History

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

Her research focuses primarily on photography and her current book project explores the interconnected histories of privacy and photography. Components of this research have been published as “Public/Private Tensions in the Photography of Sally Mann,” History of Photography (2008), “Sontag’s Lament: Emotion, Ethics, and Photography,” Photography & Culture (Fall 2009), and “Privacy, Photography, and the Art Defense,” for an edited volume entitled Revealing Privacy (Lang, 2012).

In 2014, Professor Parsons contributed an e-book for the Art Canada Institute: William Notman: Life & Work ( Her research on the prolific 19th century Montreal photographer continues with an essay on the performative space of Notman’s studio for an upcoming exhibition at the McCord Museum, Montreal. Parsons is also the editor of Emergence: Contemporary Canadian Photography (Gallery 44 and Ryerson University, 2009) and a forthcoming volume of essays on gender, genre, and photography (Duke University Press, 2016).

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.

Professor Parsons is a founding member of a collaborative research group known as the Toronto Photography Seminar ( She has been awarded the 2015/16 Massey York Fellowship at Massey College and previously received York’s University–Wide Teaching Award.