PhD Candidate; American Art


Phillippa Pitts is a Horowitz Foundation Fellow for American Art at Boston University. Her research questions social, political, and racial borders within American art of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, highlighting the aspirations and anxieties around expansion, immigration, xenophobia, and Indigeneity that underpin such constructions.

Phillippa’s dissertation employs a disability studies lens to locate health and illness as dominant threads in the intellectual, political, and artistic life of the antebellum United States. By tracing artistic engagement with pharmaceuticals, her project shows how conceptions of health entwined not only race, class, and gender, but ideals of self reliance, assertions of democratic independence, and extractive imperial desire, affording artists a potent vocabulary with which to engage a vast cultural discourse.

Having returned to doctoral work after a decade in museum practice, Phillippa remains passionate about equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the arts. At Boston University, Phillippa works with the Center for Teaching & Learning where she researches high-impact strategies for remote learning and innovative approaches to ELL and UDL inclusion in the classroom.

Phillippa’s research has been generously supported by the Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CASVA); the American Antiquarian Society; Winterthur Museum, Library, and Gardens; the Library Company of Philadelphia; the William H. Clements Library at the University of Michigan; the Beaze and Harry Adelson Research Fund; the Boston University Women’s Guild; and the Kress Foundation. Phillippa has held positions and fellowships at the Portland Museum of Art (Maine), Portland Art Museum (Oregon), Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the ICA/Boston, among others. Her work has been published by Panorama: The Journal of American Art, The Journal of Museum Education, and MuseumsEtc. She is the winner of a 2019 Excellence in Writing award from Routledge/The Museum Education Roundtable, and a 2014 Special Mention for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching from Tufts University.

Research Interests:

  • Fine and Popular Arts of the United States
  • Disability Studies
  • Indigeneity and Indigenous Rights

Dissertation in Progress:
“Pharmacoepic Dreams: Art in the United States’ Medical Democracy”

M.A. Thesis:
“Truth and Representation: Exploring History, Visuality, and Trauma in Blitz Era Britain” (2014)


  • Senior Editor, SEQUITUR
  • Teaching Fellow, AH395
  • Graduate Symposium Coordinator


  • Junior Editor, SEQUITUR
  • GSHAAA Secretary