• Graduate Program in Art History, Department of Visual Art & Art History

  • Sarah Parsons

  • Associate Professor

Sarah Parsons profile image

E sparsons@yorku.ca

EDUCATION

PhD (UCSB) BAH (Queen's University)

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

History of photography
Canadian art and visual culture

BIOGRAPHY

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

My current research focuses on the history and theory of photography. With Professor Sarah Bassnett (Western University) I am co-authoring a survey of photography in Canada to be published by the Art Canada Institute. In 2019, I received an SSHRC Insight Grant for “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.” This research will culminate in a scholarly book, a series of short online essays for the McCord Museum in Montreal, and an exhibition at the Ryerson Image Centre in 2023.

From 2016-2018, I 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.

My teaching is informed by this current research as well as earlier work in historical and modern art. As the recipient of a research fellowship in the Prints and Drawings Department at the Art Gallery of Ontario, I 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. Later, I 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.

I am a co-editor of the scholarly journal, Photography and Culture (Taylor & Francis) and was the 2015/16 Massey York Fellowship at Massey College. I received York’s University–Wide Teaching Award for junior faculty in 2003 and have twice served as Chair of Visual Art and Art History and as Graduate Program Director for Art History and Visual Culture.

Select Publications

2021      “Margaret Watkins: The Kitchen Sink, 1919,” ed. Sarah Milroy, Uninvited: Canadian Women Artists in the Modern Moment. Toronto: McMichael Art Collection: 197-198.

Uninvited: Canadian Women Artists in the Modern Moment

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

People of AMPD

Assistant Professor

Natasha Bissonauth

Assistant Professor

Archer Pechawis

Assistant Professor

Marissa Largo

Administrative Staff

Dawn Burns

Professor Emerita

Shelley Hornstein

Technical Staff

Joel Wengle

Administrative Staff

Joy Raymond

Administrative Staff

Rose Le Coche

Assistant Professor

Robyn Cumming

Administrative Staff

Melesa Beharry

Administrative Staff

Patrick Legris

Technical Staff

P. Roch Smith

Technical Staff

Lindsay Page

Technical Staff

Kotama Bouabane

Assistant Professor

Tammer El-Sheikh

Assistant Professor

Holly Ward

Professor

Jennifer Fisher

Professor

Michel Daigneault

Associate Professor

Marc Couroux

Professor Emeritus

Jon Baturin

Professor

Barbara Balfour

Associate Professor

David Scott Armstrong

Associate Professor

Dan Adler

Professor Emeritus

Nell Tenhaaf

Contract Faculty

Chris Ironside

Professor Emeritus

Michael Davey

Professor Emeritus

Joyce Zemans

Professor Emeritus

Tim Whiten

Professor Emeritus

Bruce Parsons

Professor Emeritus

Guy P.R. Métraux

Professor Emeritus

Hugh LeRoy

Professor Emeritus

Barbara Dodge

Professor Emeritus

Ken Carpenter

Professor Emeritus

Shirley Ann Brown

Professor Emeritus

Ted Bieler

Professor Emeritus

Carol Zemel

Associate Professor

Kevin Yates

Professor

Brandon Vickerd

Professor

Malcolm Thurlby

Professor Emeritus

Karen Stanworth

Professor

Yvonne Singer

Associate Professor

Judith Schwarz

Associate Professor

Nancy Nicol

Associate Professor

Nina Levitt

Associate Professor

Yam Lau

Associate Professor

Leslie Korrick

Professor

Katherine Knight

Associate Professor

Hong Kal

Professor

Janet Jones

Professor

Anna Hudson

Associate Professor

Brian Grosskurth

Associate Professor

Sarah Parsons