The Gund


Distinguished Lecture: Dr. Tanya Sheehan

Information About the Event

On View

Community Foundation Theater, Free Admission

Dr. Tanya Sheehan will present her upcoming research on Harlem Renaissance artist Charles Alston and Jacob Lawrence (whose work appears in The Gund Collection), exploring their involvement with public health during pandemics. Throughout her career, Sheehan has navigated the intersection of American art history and critical medical humanities. Her inaugural book, "Doctored: The Medicine of Photography in Nineteenth-Century America" (Penn State Press, 2011), contends that medical models and metaphors played a vital role in bolstering the professional legitimacy of studio photographers and shaping the cultural identity of photographic portraiture during the Civil War and postbellum periods. "Doctored" concludes with a chapter on digital photography and contemporary makeover culture.

Currently, Sheehan's ongoing book project, for which she received a 2019–20 Boston Medical Library Fellowship in the History of Medicine and a 2023 Beinecke Visiting Senior Fellowship at CASVA, explores modernist art by African Americans. This project explores themes of Black agency through the lenses of medicine and public health, focusing on American art from the 1930s to 1950s by figures such as Charles Alston, Jacob Lawrence, and their circle. Additionally, Sheehan is collaborating with Suzanne Hudson (USC) on the first collection of critical essays examining modernism and art therapy in a transnational American context, forthcoming from Yale University Press.

Related Content