Faculty Profile

Elizabeth Lee

Associate Professor of Art History (2006)

Contact Information


Weiss Center for the Arts Room 225


Professor Lee teaches courses in modern, contemporary and American art as well as in art theory, art historical methods, the representation of gender and sexuality and the history of medicine. Her research has been published in Smithsonian American Art, The Journal of American Culture, Nineteenth Century and Hektoen International: A Journal of Medical Humanities. Her current research examines the links between late nineteenth-century American art and the history of the body, medicine and health with a focus on the impact of tuberculosis, syphilis and cancer on artistic consumption and production. She has received funding for this project from the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the Huntington Library, the Wolfsonian Institute and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.


  • B.A., Wake Forest University, 1990
  • M.A., University of Minnesota, 1993
  • Ph.D., Indiana University, 2002

2015-2016 Academic Year

Fall 2015

ARTH 102 Introduction History of Art
This course surveys art of the European renaissance through the contemporary period. Art will be examined within the historical context in which it was produced, with attention to contemporary social, political, religious, and intellectual movements. Students will examine the meaning and function of art within the different historical periods. In addition, students will learn to analyze and identify different artistic styles. This course fulfills the Arts (Division I C) distribution requirement.

ARTH 204 American Art
This course takes a chronological approach to the history of art in the United States from the late eighteenth century through the early twentieth century. At the start of the semester, we consider questions of how the newly-formed nation and its citizens were represented in art. We will examine how, during the heyday of Western expansion, the American landscape was variously depicted through photography and painting with the ideology of Manifest Destiny and a growing tourist industry in mind. We also discuss the challenges artists faced in the later nineteenth century in creating commemorative public statuary for the nation following a highly divisive Civil War. By the end of the nineteenth century, during America's "Gilded Age," dramatic shifts in race, class and gender relations account for an unprecedented level of activity in the arts. Finally, we examine the issues at stake in a thoroughly diverse and modern version of America, where homosexuality, race relations and debates about gender take center stage, alongside questions of the nation's place in an increasingly global environment. Students can expect to leave the course with a more complex understanding of what America is and how it has been represented across history, by various artists and in a range of media, while also developing crucial skills in critical reading, writing and visual analysis. Prerequisite: 101 or 102, AMST majors, or permission of the instructor.

ARTH 314 20th Century Art
A survey of major artists and movements from post-World War II to the present, beginning with Pop art through Postmodernism and global art today. The course will also incorporate key critical and theoretical writings from the period for discussion. Prerequisite: 101 and 102 or permission of the instructor.

Spring 2016

ARTH 207 Criticism/Theory in the Arts
An introduction to critical strategies in and theoretical approaches to the visual arts from Plato through Postmodernism. Particular emphasis is placed on close analysis and discussion of texts. The course addresses issues of historiography, critical theory, and contemporary art criticism. Prerequisite: 101 or 102 or permission of the instructor.

ARTH 313 19th Century Art
This course surveys key artistic movements and styles in a period of roughly one hundred years, beginning with Realism in the 1840s France and ending with Abstract Express-ionism in 1950s America. Much of the course focuses on painting, though discussions of architecture, design, sculpture and photography also play an important role. We begin with the question of what modernism is: When did it begin? What makes a work of art "modern"? How is modernism different from what preceded it? Students learn to recognize, understand and discuss the defining features of modernism in its major manifestations, while also developing an understanding of themes such as the role of African art in modernism, the changing dynamics between the fine arts and popular culture, the role of technology as an influence on art, and the place of particular critics, galleries, and museums in shaping the discourses of modernism. Individual research projects give students the chance to explore a specific artist, style or theme in depth, while a field trip to National Gallery of Art and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C. provide an opportunity to see significant works of modern art firsthand. Assigned reading incorporate both secondary sources as well as artist's manifestos and aesthetic philosophies as primary source text. Prerequisite: 101 and 102 or permission of the instructor.