My research examines late-nineteenth-century fine arts institutions, canon formation, art criticism, and historiography. I am also interested in data visualizations and recreations. To that effect, my dissertation, entitled “A Republic of the Arts: The Construction of Nineteenth-Century Art History at the Musée national du Luxembourg, 1871-1914,” explores that museum’s influential role both in the codification of the canon of nineteenth-century painting and in the foundation of “the contemporary” as a distinct art-historical category and sub-field. Alexis has presented her research at various conferences and symposia including the Nineteenth-Century Studies Association, Southeast College Art Conference, College Art Conference, and Middle Atlantic Symposium.
I have curated several exhibitions at Duke University related to popular and political visual culture in fin-de-siécle France: Lines of Attack: Conflict in Caricature (2010), A Mockery of Justice: Caricature and the Dreyfus Affair (2012); Night in the City of Light: Paris’ Cabarets, 1881-1914 (2014); and Cheap Thrills: The Highs and Lows of Cabaret Culture in Paris, 1881-1939 (2014). Such exhibitions examine how the public would have accessed, interpreted, and experienced events such as the Dreyfus Affair or the whirlwind of cabaret culture through caricatures, periodicals, and other visual ephemera.
I am a passionate teacher of art history and visual studies dedicated to teaching students about the social and political utility of the arts. As I specialize in modern art (1750-1945), I am interested in designing and teaching courses in American and European art and architectural history in this period as well as courses in theory; criticism; art and markets; museology and curatorial practices; and historiography and methodology. I have taught such courses at Duke University and the University of Saint Thomas (Houston).
Like my research, my courses concentrate on the conscription of the visual culture into political and philosophical debates while employing an interdisciplinary approach that especially emphasizes connections between the different arts (visual art, music, theatre, and literature). Rather than requiring students memorize facts and dates, I seek to introduce students to past and present cultures and their aesthetics and material traditions in such a manner that prepares those students to thoughtfully engage with diverse and vibrant communities. I thus teach the history of art with a purpose: understanding one another’s art and culture strengthens and improves communities through cultural awareness and through improved communication skills. Through this constant cycle of teaching and learning, I believe that college courses in the arts promote intellectual curiosity that extends beyond the bricks-and-mortar classroom to spark empathetic, even exuberant conversations about cultural and political issues within the wider community.
Examples of past course syllabi:
The American Culture Wars: From Commie Pinkos to Culture Warriors