Laura Wexler, Co-director of the Yale Public Humanities Program, is professor of American Studies, professor of Film & Media Studies, and professor of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Yale University, and she holds an affiliate position in Ethnicity, Race & Migration. She is also founder and Director of the Photographic Memory Workshop at Yale. She is former Chair of the Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program, and former Co-chair of the Yale Women Faculty Forum.
Professor Wexler has received numerous fellowships and awards, including a Henry R. Luce Foundation Grant for a three-year long project on “Women, Religion and Globalization,” (2007-2010) and institutional financial support to help pilot the Public Voices Thought Leadership Fellowship Program of the OpEd Project at and beyond Yale. Her positions as a scholarly consultant include the PBS Documentary Kate Chopin: A Re-Awakening, the Alice Austen House on Staten Island, and the Eugenic Rubicon Project. She serves as a member of the advisory board of Bridging with STEAM/M, and is a partner on Family Camera, both recipients of major grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. From 2015-2016, she was an Agent of the Hillman Photography Initiative at the Carnegie Museum of Art. She serves on the Editorial Board of the Trans-Asia Photography Review, and is a member of the American Studies Association; C19: The Society of Nineteenth Century Americanists; The Organization of American Historians; The American Historical Association; The Modern Literature Association; The Center for the Study of Social Difference at Columbia University; and FemTechNet, an activated network of hundreds of scholars, students, and artists who work on, with, and at the borders of technology, science and feminism.
Since 2011, Professor Wexler has been Principal Investigator of the Photogrammar Project team, co-directed by Taylor B. Arnold and Lauren Tilton. Photogrammar has received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies to make a web-based interactive research system for mapping, searching and visualizing the more than 170, 000 photographs from 1935-1945 created by the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information during the Great Depression and the first years of American entry into World War II.
Professor Wexler centers her scholarship and teaching on photography and visual culture. Her many essays and books include the award-winning Tender Violence: Domestic Visions in an Age of U.S. Imperialism (2000), Pregnant Pictures (2000), and “’A More Perfect Likeness:’ Frederick Douglass and the Image of the Nation,” in Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity, Maurice Wallace and Shawn Michelle Smith, eds. 2012. Two essays are forthcoming in 2017: “The Purloined Image of Roland Barthes,” in Photography and the Optical Unconscious, Sharon Silwinski and Shawn Michelle Smith, eds., and “’I Saw It!’: The Photographic Witness of Barefoot Gen,” in Remaking Reality: U.S. Documentary Culture after 1945, Sara Blair, Joseph Entin and Franny Nudelman, eds.
Currently, she is teaching a graduate seminar in the Digital Humanities, developed with support from the Mellon Foundation, and a seminar on American Public Sculpture, developed in cooperation with the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She is collaborating with Magnum photographers Donovan Wylie and Jim Goldberg on a book about New Haven. As well, in 2015 the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale held the first public exhibition of her own photographs, entitled “The Tenderness of Men in Suburbs.”
Laura Wexler holds M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University in English and Comparative Literature.