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Art & Art History
University of Mississippi

Dr. Karen Barber

Visiting Assistant Professor

Art History

MPh, PhD, Graduate Center, City University of New York
MA, University of California, Riverside
BA, University of California, Riverside

Dr. Karen Barber is an art historian specializing in Modern art and the history and theory of photography.

Research interests:

  • European photography between the two World Wars, with a particular interest in cameraless photography.
  • Photography in print, particularly the dissemination and theorization of photography in Avant-Garde magazines.
  • Photography and Native America, particularly the photographic legacy of the Bureau of American Ethnology, photography of Native American tribes at the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, and photography by contemporary Indigenous artists.


Dr. Karen Barber is an American art historian, specializing in the history and theory of photography and Modern art. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Mississippi. She is also a contributing editor for twentieth-century photography at Smarthistory/Khan Academy. Her research explores interwar photography, photobooks, photographic exhibitions, and photography as it relates to Native America within the context of, and as a means of upsetting, traditional settler colonialist narratives. She has also worked in significant photography collections in numerous American art museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. 


“Chronology,” in Glamour: Karl Struss and the Golden Age of Film (Fort Worth: Amon Carter Museum of American Art, 2022). Forthcoming.

“László Moholy-Nagy, Photogram,” Smarthistory, August 26, 2022, 

“Collecting the Indian Congress: Reframing Indigenous Photography Albums from the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition,” in Diverse Voices in Photographic Albums: “These Are Our Stories,Mary Trent and Kris Belden-Adams, eds. (London: Routledge, 2022), 164-193.

“Photography At and In Strategy: Get Arts,” in Strategy: Get Arts: 35 Artists Who Broke the Rules, ed. Christian Weikop (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2021).

“Alexander Rodchenko: At the Telephone,” Smarthistory, September 1, 2021,

“Honoré Daumier: Nadar Elevating Photography to the Height of an Art,” Smarthistory, June 6, 2021,

 “David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson: Newhaven Fishwives,Smarthistory, June 6, 2021,

“Hannah Höch, Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada Through the Last Weimar Beer Belly Cultural Epoch of Germany,” Smarthistory, August 18, 2020,

“Documents and Archives: Photography Of, At and In the 1970 Strategy: Get Arts Exhibition,” Studies in Photography (Summer 2019): 28-41.

Review of The Photobook: From Talbot to Ruscha and Beyond, by Patrizia di Bello, Colette Wilson, and Shamoon Zamir, eds., Exposure 46:1 (Spring 2013): 62-64.

“Chronology,” in Trajectories: The Photographic Work of Robbert Flick. Exhibition catalogue. (Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2004), 311-313.

“Joy Before the Object: Expressions of Modernism from UCR/CMP’s Collection” FotoText (Riverside: UCR/California Museum of Photography, 2001), unpaginated.

“Independent Visions: Women Photographers from UCR/CMP’s Collection” FotoText. (Riverside: UCR/California Museum of Photography, 1999), unpaginated. 

Areas of Expertise: Art History, History of Photography