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Laura Wexler studies the social life of photographs, interrogating the power of photography’s place at the intersections of gender, race, sexuality, class and nationalism as configured within and across the visual cultures of the United States. She is Founder and Director of the Photographic Memory Workshop at Yale, an inclusive working group for discussion of visual culture among students, staff, faculty, neighbors and practitioners in our community. She is Co-editor, along with Ariella Azoulay, Wendy Ewald, Susan Meiselas, and Leigh Raiford, of the forthcoming book Collaboration: A Potential History of Photography, which envisions the history of photography through the lens of collaboration. And she is Principal Investigator of the Photogrammar Project, which has received NEH and ACLS support to make a web-based interactive research system for visualizing the 180,000 American photographs created by the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information between 1935-1945.
Her many publications on photography include Tender Violence: Domestic Visions in an Age of U.S. Imperialism (2000), which won the Joan Kelly Memorial Prize from the American Historical Association, Pregnant Pictures (2000), Interpretation and the Holocaust (2004), recent critical essays on Roland Barthes, Pablo Delano, Frederick Douglass, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Jim Goldberg, Keiji Nakazawa, Lorie Novak, Roman Vishniac, Jo Ann Walters, and Donovan Wylie; a chapter on photography and mental illness in Imagining Everyday Life: Engagements with Vernacular Photography, (Steidl, 2020), and a chapter on Chinese family photographs during the Cultural Revolution, co-authored with Karintha Lowe and GuiGui Yao, in the forthcoming Cold War Camera (Duke University Press). Professor Wexler is currently working on a monograph entitled Photography After Freedom, examining U. S. photography’s production of gender, race, time and crisis after Reconstruction; and editing an anthology of critical essays on family photography entitled The State of the Album.
At Yale, she is Director of Undergraduate Studies for the American Studies Program, and Acting Co-director of the Public Humanities Graduate Program. She is a founding member of the New England Public Humanities Consortium (NEPH), and FemTechNet, an activated network of scholars, artists and students working on, with, and at the borders of technology, science and feminism in a variety of fields including Science & Technology Studies (STS), Media and Visual Studies, Art, Gender, Queer and Ethnic Studies.