The University of Chicago
Department of History
1126 East 59th Street, Mailbox 79
Chicago, IL 60637
Nineteenth-Century American Cultural and Social History; Visual Culture; Urban History; Modern Mass Culture; Gender; The American West; History of Technology, Communications, and Distance; Mortality, History, and Memory
Amy Lippert is Assistant Professor of American History and the College. Her research and teaching focus on the cultural and social history of the United States in the 19th century, with a special interest in the mass production, consumption, and interaction with visual imagery and problems of perception. She teaches courses and seminars on Visual Culture in American Life, 19th-century U.S. Cultural and Social History, the U.S. West, American Urban History, Gender and Sexuality, American Cultural Institutions, Consumerism and Mass Culture, and Death and Memory. Current projects include a book nearing completion on visual culture and celebrity in 19th-century San Francisco, and work-in-progress on diversity, racial classification, and photography in the nineteenth century, as well as research on the dynamics of gender and higher education in capitalist society—specifically through the lens of the collecting practices and philanthropy of Phoebe A. Hearst.
Consuming Identities: Visual Culture and Celebrity in Nineteenth-Century San Francisco
In this project, Lippert traces the growth of the commodified image industry in San Francisco during the nineteenth century, incorporating mass-reproduced visual representations of people into a broader history and explaining the cultural roots of modern celebrity. In a world suddenly filled with strangers and interchangeable copies, Americans relied upon external markers as indicators of a person’s inner essence. Both the causes and effects of this change were strikingly revealed within the urban centers of the Western world, especially in San Francisco. The modern celebrity phenomenon emerged out of this cultural milieu. Visual media constituted a central intersection between public appearance and mass entertainment in nineteenth-century American life.
“‘Seeing Just About Everything’: Visual Desire, Love, and Lust in Nineteenth-Century San Francisco,” in Regards Croisés Sur San Francisco / Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the City by the Bay, Aix-en-Provence, France: Presses Universitaires de Université de Provence, in English and French, forthcoming.