Tara Kohn

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Art History

Teaching this semester

ARTH 2440. Shoot, Snap, Instagram: A History of Photography in America

A survey of photography made and experienced in the United States from the age of daguerreotypes until the era of digital image processing. Addresses the key photographic movements, works, practitioners, and technological and aesthetic developments while also considering the social, political, cultural, and economic contexts for individual photographs. Photographers studied include Watkins, Bourke-White, Weegee, and Weems. Readings of primary sources by photographers and critics such as Stieglitz, Sontag, Abbott, and Benjamin bolster close readings of photographs. Builds skills of discussing, writing, and seeing American photography. Incorporates study of photography collections across the Bowdoin College campus.

A scholar of the art of the United States with an emphasis in the history of photography, critical race theory, and trauma studies. In her research and teaching, she works to draw out histories of immigration and assimilation that have been flattened in traditional discourses of American art by deeply-rooted myths of national distinctiveness. Engaging with legacies of rupture and resettling, her dissertation and current book project uncovers the ways in which evolving constructs of whiteness and Americanness influenced the shape of cultural history across the twentieth century. She is also developing a new manuscript that explores Alfred Stieglitz's gallery at 291 Fifth Avenue as a microcosm that contains within it the textures and racial tensions of the broader political sphere. Her work has been supported by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and her research appears in American Art and the forthcoming volume Jewish Translation/Translating Jewishness.


  • A.B., Bowdoin College
  • M.A., University of Texas; Austin
  • Ph.D., University of Texas; Austin


“An Eternal Flame: Alfred Stieglitz on New York’s Lower East Side,” American Art. 30, 3 (Fall 2016), 112-128.

“Translation and Re-Vision: On the Resurgence and Resurfacing of Alter Kacyzne’s Photographic Texts,” in Jewish Translation/Translating Jewishness , ed. Magdalena Waligórska and Tara Kohn. Berlin: DeGruyter. (Forthcoming, June 2018).

Conferences & Invited Presentations

“Elevated: On the Fringes of 291 Fifth Avenue,” College Art Association Annual Conference, February 2017, New York, NY.

 “At the Threshold: Off White and Not Quite Black at 291 Fifth Avenue,” Association For Jewish Studies Annual Conference, December 2016, San Diego, CA.

 “Translation and Re-vision,” Performative Commemoration of Painful Pasts, Stockholm   University, June 2016, Stockholm, Sweden.

 “All of Our History is Waiting Here: Encircling and Returning through Visions of Israel,” Conney Conference on Jewish Arts, The Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Southern California Initiative for Israeli Arts and Humanities, March 2015, Los Angeles, CA 

 “An Eternal Flame: Alfred Stieglitz on New York’s Lower East Side,” College Art Association Annual Conference, February 2014, Chicago, IL.

 “Beneath the Surface: Entangled Histories of Jewish Loss in Raphael Abramovitch’s The Vanished World (1947),” Conney Conference on Jewish Arts, The Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, April 2013, Madison, WI.

“Fragments,” American Comparative Literature Association Annual Conference, Brown University, March 2012, Providence, RI.

 “On Being Jewish Together: Making a Community in Photographs,” Southeastern College Art Annual Conference, the Savannah College of Art and Design, November  2011, Savannah, GA.

“In the Penumbra: Reflections on Jewish Identity in and Between the Pages of Camera Work 36,” Conney Conference on Jewish Arts, The Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, April 2011, Madison, WI.

“Between Visibility and Darkness: Veiled Jewishness in Alfred Stieglitz’s Camera Work,” Picturing the ‘People of the Book’: An Interdisciplinary Symposium on Art in the Jewish Diaspora, The University of Texas at Austin, February 2011, Austin, TX.

“Bea Stadtler’s Reconstructing the Past: Testimony, Teaching, and the Art of Restoration,” Department of Survivor Affairs, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.

 “Books to Connect the ‘People of the Book’” Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.

 “Pathways back to the Old Country: Raphael Abramovitch’s The Vanished World (1947),” Nomadism and Art: Art Histories in the Age of Globalization Conference, Kress Foundation of Art History, The University of Kansas, April 2009, Lawrence, KS.

 “Writing in Stone: Alter Kacyzne’s Old Road-Maker in Ostroleka Poland,” Art and Catastrophe Symposium, The University of Iowa, April 2009, Iowa City, IA.

 “A Stone in that Great Monument: Raphael Abromavitch’s The Vanished World (1947) as a Site of Memory and Mourning,” Eleanor Greenhill Symposium, The University of Texas at Austin, April 2009, Austin, TX. 

 “‘What 291 Means to Me’: Alfred Stieglitz’s Nadelman Exhibition—2 Rooms, December 1915,Mongrel’ America Symposium, The University of Texas at Austin, October 2008, Austin, TX.

 “Laboratory Space: Experiments in Modernism, Medicine and Racial Categorization at 291 Fifth Avenue,” Consuming Race: Shifting Paradigms and the Politics of Race in the 21st Century Conference, The University of Chicago, May 2008, Chicago, IL.

Curatorial Projects

The Traumatized Subject, co-curated with Björn Krondorfer, Coconino Center for the Arts, Flagstaff, Arizona, April and May 2018.