Karen Stanworth

Art History and Education

BFA (Concordia), BEd (McGill), MA (York), PhD (Manchester)

Scholarly Interests

Canadian Art History; Visual Culture and Identity; Museum History and Pedagogies; Visual Rhetoric and Nationalism, Group Portraiture; Teaching of Visual Arts and Art History in Higher Education; History of Visual Culture in Canada

Professor Stanworth has published on topics related to visual culture and pedagogy; higher education and the arts; feminist cultural theory and production; and narrative and history. Her articles have appeared in Art History (UK), Histoire Sociale/Social HistoryResources in Feminist Research, Journal of Canadian Studies, Symploke Journal of Comparative Literature and Theory, Journal of Canadian History and University of Toronto Quarterly.

Her teaching and research address issues of knowledge formation within visual culture, with a particular emphasis on the representation of identities, and the paradox of belonging and difference.

Visibly Canadian: Imging Identities in the Canadas, 1820-1910 (2015) is an award winning book on visual culture and identity in 19th century Canada that examines the ways in which visual culture participates in the construction and mediation of social identities, particularly in early museum pedagogies, visual spectacle and the representation of group identities. Current research includes a research project of case studies about bawdy images in 20th century Canada.

Dr. Stanworth is joint appointed to the Faculties of School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design and Education, and is associated with the Graduate Program in Interdiscipinary Studies, Graduate Program in Visual Arts and Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies at York.


Stanworth, Karen (2015). Visibly Canadian: Imaging Visual Identities in the Two Canadas, 1820-1910, Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press. Beaverbrook Canadian Art History Series, 456 p.

Stanworth, Karen, ed. (2014). Imaging Home: Resistance, Migration, Contradiction, Toronto: CLGA Publications, 32 p., ISBN 978-0-9917780-1-0.

Stanworth, Karen (2014). “Excesses of the Bawdy Body: John Wentworth Russell and his modern girls, 1927-35,” in Julia Skelly, ed. The Uses of Excess in Visual and Material Culture: 1600-2010, London: Ashgate Press, 205-224.

Stanworth, Karen (2013). “Revisioning the ‘Culture of Nature’ in Canadian Visual Culture Studies: John Russell and An/Other Case of Modern Art,” Journal of Canadian Studies, 47:3, 67-92.

Stanworth, Karen (2012). “Picturing the Land”, Critical Review of M. McKay, Picturing the Land. Narrating Territories in Canadian Landscape Art, 1500-1950, Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011. In Journal of Canadian Art History, XXXII: 2, 153-157.

Stanworth, K. “Ethics of Knowledge: education, tradition and post-modernity”, web exclusive article, Academic Matters, July 2010; [review essay, Art School (Propositions for the 21st Century), Steven H. Madoff, ed. MIT Press, 2009].

Stanworth, K. (2005). “Interdisciplinarity in the work of Francoise Sullivan”, in Caught in the Act: An Anthology of Performance Art by Canadian Women, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 387-396.

Stanworth, K. and J. Hladki (2002). “A Critical Introduction to Feminist Cultural Production”,Resources in Feminist Research, 29:3/4, 9-18. Issue editors.

Stanworth, K. (2002). “In Sight of Visual Culture. Pedagogy and the Discipline of Art History”,Symploke Journal of Comparative Literature and Theory, Special Issue: Sites of Pedagogy, 10:1, University of Nebraska

Stanworth, K. (1997). “Storytelling, History, and Identity in William Pars’s Portrait of Three Friends“,University of Toronto Quarterly, 66:2, 431-443.


“Tugging at the Edges: Tracing Lesbian Lives in and near the Gay Archives, 1950-1980,” Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Toronto, May 22-25, 2014.

“Queer Exceptionality as the Everyday: Narrating History as Visual Performance,” University Art Association, Banff Centre for the Arts, Alberta, Oct. 2013.

“Picturing Nude Women: John Russell and the Painting of Toronto Islands as a Scene of Shame and Disrepute, 1935,” University Art Association of Canada, Concordia University, Montreal, Nov 2012.

“The Colonial Museum in the Two Canadas: Narratives, Objects, Subjects”, The Archive and Everyday Life, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, May 2010.

“Staging a Siege: the spectacular representation of citizenship”, Instruction, Amusement and Spectacle: Popular Shows and Exhibitions 1800-1914, University of Exeter, April 2009

“Morality and Modernity: the discursive production of the immoral body in a painting by John Russell”, University Art Association of Canada, Victoria, B.C, 2005

“The Indiscipline of Methodologies in Cultural Studies”, Cultural Studies Association (US), Tuscon, Arizona, 2005

“Visual Rhetoric and Representation in the Portrait of George Washington and Family”, Inventio: ReReading the Rhetorical Tradition, University of Waterloo, 2003

Organized session on “Visual Construction of Social Identity in Canada, 1800-1939″, University Art Association of Canada, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2000

“Images in Texts; Images in Context – early illustration of school book primers”, Canadian History of Education Society Conference, London, Ontario, 2000.