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Faculty Profile

Elizabeth Lee

Associate Professor of Art History (2006)

Contact Information

Weiss Center for the Arts Room 225


Prof. Lee teaches courses in modern, contemporary and American art. Her research has appeared in publications including American Art, Archives of American Art Journal and The Journal of American Culture as well as the Routledge Companion to Art and Disability. Her book, The Medicine of Art: Disease and the Aesthetic Object in Gilded Age America (Bloomsbury, 2022), features an interrelated series of case studies focused on major Gilded Age artists—John Singer Sargent, Abbott Thayer, Augustus Saint-Gaudens—and one collector, Charles Lang Freer, to show how works of art were marked by disease and functioned in medicinal terms for artists and viewers in the late nineteenth century. Her current projects include an essay on Henri Matisse and therapeutic modernism as well as new research on Dr. Thomas Mütter as a collector of medical specimens.


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

2023-2024 Academic Year

Fall 2023

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.

ARTH 314 Contemporary Art
This course addresses a period of artistic production from the late 1960s to the present. It showcases key artists and artistic movements within a broad historical framework, highlighting major issues and important debates. Some of the themes discussed in the course include the changing nature of artistic practice in recent decades; the intersection of the body in contemporary art with issues of gender, sexuality, ethnicity and race; the role of art in public spaces; the rise of new media; the place of art within galleries, museums and other art-world institutions; the global nature of contemporary art; and art as an agent of protest and social change. Assigned readings include a variety of art historical analyses, artist interviews and writings, essays by art critics and other writers with backgrounds in such areas as philosophy, gender studies and critical race theory. Prerequisite: 102 or permission of the instructor.

Spring 2024

ARTH 204 American Art
This course begins with the earliest depictions of indigenous people by European explorers and expands to consider how artists responded to the colonization and domestication of North American land. It considers how tensions around slavery in nineteenth-century American imagery played out differently across audience, medium and context and how slaves resisted narratives of white dominance and oppression. It also examines the impact of urbanization, immigration and the rise of consumer culture on the content and circulation of art, concluding with the social dislocation of the 1930s Depression and the onset of WW2. Students can expect to leave the course with a more complex understanding of American identity and cultural politics, while also developing crucial skills in critical reading, writing and visual analysis across a range of artifacts and media. Prerequisite: 101 or 102, AMST majors, or permission of the instructor.

ARTH 313 Modern 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: 102 or permission of the instructor.