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Emily Burns

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Emily C. Burns, PhD

Emily C. Burns is the Director of the Charles M. Russell Center for the Study of Art of the American West and an Associate Professor of Art History in the School of Visual Arts at the University of Oklahoma. She earned a B.A. in Art History from Union College, an M.A. in Art History and Theory from the George Washington University, and a Ph.D. in Art History and Archaeology from Washington University in St. Louis. At OU, she teaches courses on American art and the art of the American West.

Burns is a scholar of the transnational nineteenth century, with an interdisciplinary research practice that analyzes artists and works of art moving through space and between cultures, with a focus on relationships between U.S. and Native American artists, as well as dialogues between French, U.S., and Native American artists. She is author of Transnational Frontiers: the American West in France (University of Oklahoma Press, 2018) and co-editor of Mapping Impressionist Painting in Transnational Contexts (with Alice M. Rudy Price, Routledge, 2021), as well as co-editor for an issue of Transatlantica on the American West in France (with Agathe Cabau, 2019). Burns has published articles about U.S. art in Paris, the circulation of Lakȟóta performers and art, U.S. exhibition histories, U.S. sculpture in public spaces, and U.S. impressionism in Arts; Archives of American Art Journal; Nka Journal of Contemporary African Art; Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide; Panorama Journal of Association of the Historians of American Art; Sculpture Journal, as well as in edited volumes and exhibition catalogues. She is a co-editor for Panorama’s Research Notes section. Her current book project, Performing Innocence: U.S. Art and Culture in fin-de-siècle Paris, analyzes artists’ letters and journals, alongside visual and material culture mingling painting, magazine and book illustrations, pottery, furniture, cultural performances, architectural spaces, and sculpture of the U.S. artists’ colony and tourist travel in Paris to argue that Americans abroad enhanced a mythology that claimed cultural innocence in response to European expectations. The discursive history deconstructs period-specific constructions of innocence to interpret the paradox and cultural import of projecting a society as innocent.

With David Peters Corbett, she has organized a series of events for the 2022-23 academic year entitled “Belatedness and North American Art,” to take place online and in person at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She has also organized conferences and symposia, including “Belatedness-Modernity-Coloniality” (University of Oxford, 2021); “Race, Gender and Intermedia Art Practice in Transnational Paris, c. 1900” (Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies/Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, Durham University, 2021); and “The American West / A French Appropriation” (Institut national d’histoire de l’art, 2016). Beginning in 2022, she is a collaborator on “Wičhóoyake kiη aglí—They Bring the Stories Back: Connecting Lakota Wild West Performers to Pine Ridge Community Histories,” a project which supports the development of a collaborative digital edition housed at Woksape Tipi, Oglala Lakota College, funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission of the National Archives.

Burns’s research has been supported by grants from the Amon Carter Museum of American Art; Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium Grant, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Université de Toulon, and the University of Nottingham. She served as the Terra Foundation for American Art Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at the Institut National d’histoire de l’art in Paris in 2015-16, and the Terra Foundation for American Art Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford in 2020-21.

Welcoming inquiries from students interested in pursuing masters or doctoral study in the art of the American West; transnational artistic exchange in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, especially between settler and Native American artists or in world's fairs/exhibitionary spaces; public monuments depicting American Indian figures; and/or global impressionisms.

Also welcoming inquiries from prospective authors on projects of interest for the Charles M. Russell Center Series on Art and Photography of the American West.