Katherine Fein

Katherine Fein

Katherine specializes in the visual and material culture of the United States and the Atlantic world. Her research and teaching center on the intersection of representation, embodiment, and identity, with particular attention to artistic materials and processes. She is currently at work on a dissertation that reframes the history of nudity in nineteenth-century art as a history of ecology, revealing how depictions of unclothed bodies both make visible and undermine intertwined ideologies of racial and ecological hierarchy. Her work has been supported by the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. At Columbia, she also completed a graduate certificate with the Institute for the Study of Sexuality and Gender.

Prior to pursuing a PhD, Katherine received a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and worked in the Education Department at the Brooklyn Museum. She has received fellowships from Columbia’s Center for Teaching and Learning and in 2022–23 will serve as a Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Teaching Scholar, in which capacity she will lead the undergraduate seminar, “Picturing People: Photography and the Body in the United States.”


“Picturing White Skin on Elephant Tusk,” in “Seeing the Survey Anew: White Racial Formation in the History of American Art,” ed. Kirsten Pai Buick and Robin Veder, American Art 36, no. 3 (forthcoming 2022)

White Skin, Silvered Plate: Encountering Jonathan Walker’s Branded Hand in Daguerreotype,” Oxford Art Journal 44, no. 3 (2022)

  • Recipient of the 2020 Oxford Art Journal Essay Prize for Early Career Researchers

‘The Sense of Nearness’: Harriet Hosmer’s Clasped Hands and the Materials and Bodies of Nineteenth-Century Life Casting,” British Art Studies, no. 14 (2019)