Elspeth Brown

3359 Mississauga Road, Room NE 4278 (UTM)



Institute for Women and Gender Studies
Cinema Studies
Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies

Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

Other  Specialization: US 1877-present; the cultural history of capitalism; the history and theory of photography; and queer and trans* history and theory.   


Professor Brown’s research concerns three main areas: the cultural history of capitalism; the history and theory of photography; and queer and trans* history and theory in the US and Canada. Methodologically, current work focuses on oral history; reading visual evidence; and writing for a broader public. She has received fellowship support from the Getty Research Institute, the Library of Congress Kluge Center, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Smithsonian Institution, the American Philosophical Society, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She is the author of The Corporate Eye: Photography and the Rationalization of American Commercial Culture, 1884-1929 (Johns Hopkins, 2005) and Sexual Capital: A Queer History of Modeling, 1909-1983 (forthcoming, Duke University Press), as well as co-editor of Cultures of Commerce: Representation and American Business Culture, 1877-1960 (Palgrave, 2006) and Feeling Photography (Duke University Press, 2014). 

Professor Brown has published work in GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies; Gender and History; Feminist Studies; TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly; Radical History Review; the Journal of American History; Enterprise and Society; Photography and Culture; The History of Photography; American Quarterly, and others. Current funded research projects include: “The LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory” (SSHRC, PI, 2014-2019, $254, 171) and “The Family Camera” (SSHRC PDG, co-applicant, 2016-2019, $199, 925).  Prof. Brown’s collaborative research in the history and theory of photography is shaped by the Toronto Photography Seminar, which she co-founded in 2004. Her interest in writing for a broader public has manifested in starting, with Prof. Eva-Lynn Jagoe, the Toronto Writing Workshop (creative non-fiction for academics), whose first one-week intensive we convened in May 2016. Prof. Brown serves on the Board of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, where she volunteers weekly. She invites graduate students working in the areas of US. cultural history and the history of capitalism; histories and theories of photography; and queer and trans* history in the US and Canada. Please refer to Professor Brown's website for completed and on-going scholarly research. 


• Sexual Capital: A Queer History of Modeling, 1909-1983 (monograph forthcoming, Duke University Press) 
• Feeling Photography (Duke University Press, 2014; co-editor, with Thy Phu) 
• Queering Photography: a special issue of the journal Photography and Culture. Co-editor. Volume 7, #3 (November, 2014).  
• The Corporate Eye: Photography and the Rationalization of American Commercial Culture, 1884-1929 (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005); recipient of the 2005 Awards for Excellence in Professional and Scholarly Publishing, given by the Association of American Publishing, for the best book in Business, Management & Accounting. 
• Cultures of Commerce: Representation and American Business Culture, 1877-1960 (368 pp). Co-editor with Marina Moskowitz and Catherine Gudis Palgrave/MacMillan (May 2006).  Articles (selected)   
• “Feeling in Photography: From the Affective Turn to the History of Emotions,” co-written with 2 other authors, Thy Phu and Andrea Noble, in Routledge volume on Theory in Photography 2017 (forthcoming) 
• “Queering Glamour in Interwar Fashion Photography: The “Amorous Regard” of George Platt Lynes,” GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies 2017 (forthcoming) 
• “Trans/Feminist Oral History: Current Projects.” TSQ: The Transgender Studies Quarterly vol. 2 no. 4 (November 2015), pp. 666-672. 
• “’Queering the Trans* Family Album’: Elspeth H. Brown and Sara Davidmann, in Conversation,” Radical History Review issue 122 (May, 2015), pp. 188-200. 
•  “The Commodification of Aesthetic Feeling: Race, Sexuality and the 1920s Stage Models,” Feminist Studies, volume 40, no. 1, 2014, pp. 65-97 
• “From Artist’s Model to the ‘Natural Girl’: Containing Sexuality in Early Twentieth Century Modeling,” in Joanne Entwistle and Elizabeth Wissinger, eds., Fashion Models: Modeling as Image, Text, and Industry (forthcoming, Berg, 2012).  
• “Labor, Management, and Photography as “Social Hieroglyphic”: N.C.R. and the Social Museum Collection,” in Deborah Martin Koa, ed., The New Social Order (Yale University Press, forthcoming 2012) 
• “Black Models and the Invention of the U.S. ‘Negro Market,’ 1945-1960” in Detlev Zwick and Julien Cayla, eds., Inside Marketing: Practices, Ideologies, Devices (Oxford University Press, 2011), 185-211. 
• “De Meyer at Vogue: Commercializing Queer Affect in WWI-era Fashion Photography,” Photography and Culture, November 2009 vol. 2, issue 3, 253-275. 
• “Welfare Capitalism and Documentary Photography: N.C.R. and the Visual Production of a Global Model Factory” History of Photography vol. 32, no. 2 (summer 2008), 137-151. 
• “Marlboro Men, Modeling, and Outsider Masculinities in Postwar America,” in Reggie Blaszczyk, ed., Producing Fashion: Commerce, Culture, and Consumers  (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, October 2007), 187-207. [April 2009: came out in paperback]. 
• "Racializing the Masculine Body: Eadweard Muybridge's Locomotion Studies, 1883-1887," special issue of Gender and History on "Visuality and Gender,” vol. 17, no. 3, November 2005, 1-30. 
• "Reading the Visual Record," in Ardis Cameron, ed. Looking for America: An Historical Introduction to the Visual in American Studies, 1900-2000 (Blackwell, 2005), 362-370. 
• "Technology, Culture, and the Body in Modern America," American Quarterly. Vol. 56, no. 2 (June, 2004), 449-460. 
• “The Prosthetics of Management: Motion Study, Photography, and the Industrialized Body in World War I America,” in Katherine Ott, David Serlin, and Stephen Minm, eds., Artificial Parts, Practical Lives (NYU Press, 2002): 249-281. 
• "Rationalizing Consumption: Photography and Commercial Illustration, 1913-1919," Enterprise and Society (Oxford University Press), vol. 1 no. 4 (December 2000): 715-738. 


PhD, Yale University