Major Field: United States History
Other Fields: Global History
Adviser: Peter A. Coclanis
BA Florida State University
MA University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2007
MA Thesis: “No Likeness, No Pay: The Market for Portraiture in North Carolina, 1790–1840″
My dissertation argues that early southern participation in the market for art was greater than has been previously believed, and participation extended beyond the reach of the planter elite to the “middling sort” of free southerners, a socioeconomic class largely ignored in southern antebellum historiography that has, until recently, represented the South as a region of planters, slaves, and a few white and free black subsistence farmers. Artists in the South, many itinerant, non-academic (or “folk”) painters, and mostly from the Northeast United States or Europe, played a significant role in the dissemination of cultural ideas of diverse origins. The ways southerners interpreted and received their art can reveal previously unknown dimensions of a “middle class” and its values and consumption patterns. This dissertation will examine artists who traveled to the South, their origins, the influences brought to their work, and the ways they negotiated the southern market. This project will also examine southern patrons to determine who bought artwork, why, and how artists may have influenced their intellectual and cultural worldviews. By studying the position of art and artists in southern society, we can better understand the extent to which early southerners were active participants in national, and even international, commercial and cultural trends.