Graduate Program in Art History, Department of Visual Art & Art History
EDUCATIONPhD (UCSB) BAH (Queen's University)
AREAS OF EXPERTISEHistory of photography
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 on the history and theory of photography. Professor Parsons received an SSHRC Insight Grant for her project, “Feeling Exposed: Photography, Privacy, and Visibility in Nineteenth-Century North America,” (2019 – 2024). This project examines how early photography shaped ideas about privacy, from the earliest observations about photography’s surveillance possibilities to its pivotal role in shaping the “right to privacy”. In particular, this project attends to the role of gender, race and class in the history of privacy and photography.
From 2016-2018, Parsons was part of the steering committee of a large-scale collaborative SSHRC-funded research project, The Family Camera Network (familycameranetwork.org). 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 co-authoring a survey of photography in Canada with Professor Sarah Bassnett (Western University). She is a co-editor of the scholarly journal, Photography and Culture (Taylor & Francis) and was the 2015/16 Massey York Fellowship at Massey College. Professor Parsons previously received York’s University–Wide Teaching Award.
2020 “Women in Fur: Empire, Power and Play in a Victorian Photography Album,” British Art Studies, Issue 17 (November), London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the Yale Center for British Art.
2020 S. Parsons, “Site of Ongoing Struggle: Race and Gender in Studies of Photography,” Gil Pasternak ed. Handbook of Photography Studies, London: Bloomsbury Press: 373 – 391.
2017 S. Parsons ed. Abigail Solomon-Godeau, Photography After Photography: Gender, Genre, and History. Durham: Duke University Press.
2017 S. Parsons and Jennifer Orpana eds. “Special Issue: Seeing Family,” Photography & Culture 10:2 (Summer 2017).
2016 S. Parsons, “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. Distributed by Yale University Press.
2014 S. Parsons. William Notman: Life & Work. Toronto: The Art Canada Institute.
2009 S. Parsons, “Sontag’s Lament: Emotion, Ethics, and Photography,” Photography & Culture 2:3 (Fall 2009): 289 – 302.
2009 S. Parsons, ed. Emergence: Contemporary Canadian Photography. Toronto: Gallery 44 and Ryerson University.
2008 S. Parsons, “Public/Private Tensions in the Photography of Sally Mann,” History of Photography 32:2 (Summer 2008): 123 – 136.
Graduate Program in Art History, Visual Art & Art History
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