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Sheila Foster

Track: PhD
Advisor: Joan Shelley Rubin

Research Interests

My research interests include 20th century American culture, historiography, canon formation, the role of personal narrative in historical writing, and the history of emotions. I am currently researching Beaumont Newhall, an historian of photography recognized for his role in establishing the canon of art photographs. Newhall’s The History of Photography from 1839 to the Present Day (1949) became the primary textbook for generations of students interested in photography. As author, editor, curator, and educator, Newhall mediated the perception of photography to large audiences and influenced the reception of photography as art. Biography, history, canon formation, and perception are inextricably linked. Viewing authority and canon formation as cultural products, I am interested in understanding the influences that not only affect authority but also those who mediate perception. Additionally, I am concerned with the promotion of the canon of work and its acceptance by society.


MA, History, University of Rochester, 2017


  • Co-Instructor, “Topics in the History of Photography II,” George Eastman House, Rochester, NY