Elspeth Brown

George Platt Lynes, Portrait of Bill Harris, 1945
Associate Professor of History, University of Toronto

Professor Brown’s research concerns the relationship between visuality and the body in the twentieth century United States. Her work in photography studies concerns two overlapping areas: the relationship between photography and political economy (including production, distribution, marketing, advertising, and sites of commercial leisure); and the relationship between photography and gender (including trans* representation), race, and sexuality. Her books include The Corporate Eye: Photography and the Rationalization of American Commercial Culture, 1884-1929 (Hopkins, 2005); Cultures of Commerce: Representation and American Business Culture, 1877-1960 (Palgrave 2006; co-editor) and Feeling Photography (Duke, 2014 co-edited with Thy Phu). She is currently working on three projects: a history of the commercial modeling industry in the twentieth century U.S. (under contract with Duke); editing a special issue of Photography and Culture on “Queering Photography” in collaboration with Sara Davidmann and Bruno Cechel; and a LGBTQ oral history/queer archives project in the US and Canada. Brown presented on her Transpartners Project at “Feeling Photography: A Workshop on Affect and Transmedia,” on April 15th, 2016 at UCSD. She is also a volunteer and board member at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

Selected Publications

(forthcoming) “Photography, Euphoria, and Queer Futurity: Rupert Raj’s Trans* Family Albums, 1971-1988,” under review (July 2014).

(forthcoming) “Queering Glamour in Interwar Fashion Photography: The “Amorous Regard” of George Platt Lynes,” under review (July 2014).

Co-edited with Bruno Cechel and Sara Davidmann, special issue “Queering Photography,” Photography and Culture 7, no. 3 (November 2014).

“The Commodification of Aesthetic Feeling: Race, Sexuality and the 1920s Stage Models,” Feminist Studies 40, no. 1 (2014): 65-97.

Co-editor with Thy Phu, Feeling Photography (Durham: Duke University Press, March 2014). 

“From Artist’s Model to the ‘Natural Girl’: Containing Sexuality in Early Twentieth Century Modeling,” Fashion Models: Modeling as Image, Text, and Industry, eds. Joanne Entwistle and Elizabeth Wissinger (London: Berg, 2012).  

“Labor, Management, and Photography as ‘Social Hieroglyphic’: N.C.R. and the Social Museum Collection,” The New Social Order, ed. Deborah Martin Koa (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012). 

“Black Models and the Invention of the U.S. ‘Negro Market,’ 1945-1960,” Inside Marketing: Practices, Ideologies, Devices, eds. Detlev Zwick and Julien Cayla (Oxford University Press, 2011): 185-211

“De Meyer at Vogue: Commercializing Queer Affect in WWI-era Fashion Photography,” Photography and Culture 2, no. 3 (November 2009): 253-275.

“Welfare Capitalism and Documentary Photography: N.C.R. and the Visual Production of a Global Model Factory” History of Photography 32, no. 2 (Summer 2008): 137-151.

“Marlboro Men, Modeling, and Outsider Masculinities in Postwar America,” Producing Fashion: Commerce, Culture, and Consumers, ed. Reggie Blaszczyk (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007): 187-207. Paperback edition released in 2009.

Co-editor, Cultures of Commerce: Representation and American Business Culture, 1877-1960 (New York: Palgrave/MacMillan, 2006).

The Corporate Eye: Photography and the Rationalization of American Commercial Culture, 1884-1929 (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005). Recipient of the prize in the best book in Business, Management & Accounting from the Association of American Publishing.

“Racializing the Masculine Body: Eadweard Muybridge’s Locomotion Studies, 1883-1887,” special issue: “Visuality and Gender,” Gender and History 17, no. 3 (November 2005): 1-30.


Elspeth H. Brown
Associate Professor of History
Munk School of Global Affairs
University of Toronto
1 Devonshire Place
Toronto ON M5S 3K7