Assistant Professor of American StudiesDepartment:
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Photo Credit: Gerry Szymanski
Rachel Remmel studies nineteenth-century American architectural history. In addition to studying how the interrelated categories of art and artist are defined, Remmel focuses on institutions and their associated building types to ask questions about social power. She is currently revising her dissertation on Boston public school architecture from 1789 to 1860 for publication as a book, and she has published a related article in the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth. Her second research project tracks the agendas of men’s and women’s advocacy groups responsible for founding of the Cincinnati Art Museum, and she has a forthcoming article in the Journal of Women’s History. Remmel teaches courses on the history of American art, the history of African-American art, modern architecture, the architecture of American houses, the history of American education, the history of photography, antebellum culture, and writing and composition. She has presented her work at conferences sponsored by the College Art Association, the Society of Architectural Historians, the American Studies Association, the Vernacular Architecture Forum, the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, the History of Education Society, the Nineteenth-Century Studies Association, the Association of Historians of American Art, the Society for the History of Children and Youth, and the Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife. Her book project was awarded grant support from the Spencer Foundation, and her dissertation was supported by the Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art and the Carter Manny Award from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. She received her B.A. in Art History and German Literature from Williams College. Her M.A. and Ph.D. were completed in art history at the University of Chicago.
AH 201: History of American Art
This survey of American art covers stylistic developments in painting, sculpture, and architecture. Essays presenting specific case studies illustrate the ways in which different approaches, omitted artworks, and in-depth engagements with single works can change our understanding of the narrative of American art. In addition to the broad themes of American art, students will learn a basic art historical vocabulary and examine different art historical approaches.
AH 221: African-American Art
This course surveys African-American art, including decorative arts created by slaves, mainstream nineteenth-century artists, the Harlem Renaissance and the New Negro movement, the Black Art movement, postmodern art, and contemporary art. We will read primary sources ranging from W.E.B. Du Bois and Alain Locke to Romare Bearden and Elizabeth Catlett. Central topics will include the conditions of artistic practice, the relationship to the overall narrative of American art, and the art historical reception of African-American art. Cross-listed as AAS 282 (College).
AH 242: Architecture of American Houses
As an icon in American culture, the house is an object rich with social significance. Houses can tell us about the economic development of America, the structure of the American family, the relationship of work to home, and the development of the American city. We will look at the diverse housing types Americans have developed to express their social goals, such as southern plantations, urban row houses, rural villas, model homes, residential hotels, tenements, the post-war suburban home, housing projects, and New Urbanism houses.
AH 244: Modern Architecture
This course provides an introduction to modern architecture starting with its nineteenth-century roots and continuing to the present day. We will explore the impact of technological, economic, political, and social change on architecture, as well as study major figures of modern architecture such as Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
AH 250: History of Photography
Since its introduction in 1839, photography has been an important visual medium. This course will examine changing technical processes and their aesthetic implications; debates about the nature of photography; photography’s relationship to other artistic media; and different contexts in which photography has been used, such as art, science, social sciences, colonialism, social advocacy, print media, and postmodernism.
HIS 226 History of American Education
This survey of the history of American education examines key issues that have engaged school reformers since the colonial period, including pedagogy; curriculum; race, gender, and class; beliefs about childhood and development; religious, moral, and character education; and economic, political, and social goals.
HIS 228 Antebellum American Culture
What was it like to live in America between 1776 and 1860? This course will focus on American culture in northern cities. Topics will include the market revolution, sexuality, religious revivalism, reform movements such as women’s rights and abolitionism, urban space, and popular culture. We will consider how Americans negotiated social disruptions as they formed a new nation.
FWS 121: Freshman Writing Seminar: Art and the Culture Wars
Focusing both on art and on policy, this course will examine selected controversies surrounding the visual arts in the United States in the last fifty years. Using the examples that include the 9/11 memorial and site plan competitions, David Wojnarowicz and sexuality, and the Sensation museum exhibition, we will discuss issues such as the politics of memorials, free speech and censorship, public funding and the National Endowment for the Arts, and culture war flashpoints such as race, gender, sexuality, class, politics, and religion.