Ross Barrett

725 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, Massachusetts 02215
Fax: (617) 353-3243


curriculum vitae

Assistant Professor; American Art
BA, University of Notre Dame; MA, Syracuse University; PhD Boston University.

Professor Barrett is a scholar of American art and visual culture from the colonial period to the early twentieth century. His research and teaching explore the ways that fine artists navigated the political, economic, and cultural transformations that gave rise to American modernity, including the emergence of liberal democracy, the development of industrial and finance capitalism, and the explosive growth of popular culture. He is the author of Rendering Violence: Riots, Strikes, and Upheaval in Nineteenth-Century American Art (California, 2014), and co-editor, with Daniel Worden, of Oil Culture (Minnesota, 2014). He is currently at work on a book-length project on American artists who painted landscapes and speculated on land in the long nineteenth century. He is the recipient of several grants and awards, including the Arthur Kingsley Porter Prize and NCSA Emerging Scholars Award, and has published essays in The Art Bulletin, American Art, Winterthur Portfolio, Journal of American Studies, and Prospects.

Professor Barrett teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in colonial, nineteenth-century, and early twentieth-century American art and visual culture. Topics include colonial American art, art of the American Revolution, art and the Civil War, the visual culture of American cities, Picturing the Frontier, American landscape art, American modernisms, and American art in the 1930s.


Selected Publications

Rendering Violence Riots, Strikes, and Upheaval in Nineteenth-Century American Art
Rendering Violence     (California, 2014)
Rendering Violence explores the problems and possibilities that the subject of political violence presented to American painters working between 1830 and 1890, a turbulent period during which common citizens frequently abandoned orderly forms of democratic expression to riot, strike, and protest violently. Examining a range of critical texts, this book shows for the first time that nineteenth-century American aesthetic theory defined painting as a privileged vehicle for the representation of political order and the stabilization of liberal-democratic life.

The cultural life of oil—from aesthetics and politics to economy and ecology
Oil Culture     (Minnesota, 2014)
The cultural life of oil—from aesthetics and politics to economy and ecology.
Investigating cultural discourses that have taken shape around oil, these essays in Oil Culture compose the first sustained attempt to understand how petroleum has suffused the Western imagination. By considering oil as both a natural resource and a trope, the authors show how oil’s dominance is part of culture rather than an economic or physical necessity.