Postdoctoral Associates 2020-2021
- Michelle Smiley
Michelle Smiley is a scholar of 19th-century photography and visual culture whose research investigates the intersection of aesthetics and scientific practice in the antebellum United States. Her current book project, Daguerreian Democracy: Art, Science, and Politics in Antebellum American Photography, examines how the daguerreotype became an object of technological, scientific, and commercial innovation for antebellum scientists, artisans, and political thinkers. By chronicling the contributions of these often-overlooked actors, she explores how the daguerreotype was an object of transatlantic scientific experimentation, a key component of government projects of nation-building, as well as an object of fascination for theorists of democracy. Before coming to Rutgers, Michelle held the Wyeth Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts in Washington, D.C. She holds an A. B., M.A. and Ph.D. in History of Art from Bryn Mawr College.
- Alexander Bigman
Alexander Bigman is a historian of modern and contemporary art. His research focuses in particular upon the emergence, circa 1980, of postmodernism as an internationally circulating set of intertwined discourses, creative practices, and political positions. He is currently at work on a book project derived from his dissertation, “Picturing Fascism in Post-Conceptual Art, 1974 - 1984,” which examines how the history and aesthetics of interwar European fascism became newly salient objects of inquiry and representation for artists associated with the so-called “Pictures Generation,” a group defined by its use of imagery drawn from popular culture and its critical engagement with the dynamics of mass media. For artists who were born after World War II and established their careers at a moment marked by rightward political shift, such taboo imagery became a provocative, if often problematic, means of addressing such matters as the representability of history, the nature of cultural memory and its role in group identity formation, and the political ramifications of embracing figuration, photomechanical or otherwise, following the predominantly abstract paradigms of postwar modernism. Alex is also a practicing critic. He received his PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, and his BA from the University of California at Berkeley.