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Anna L

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at University of Chicago


History of Photography, Art History, Critical Theory


Hi, I'm Anna! Before I started as the Student Projects Coordinator at Polygence, I held various positions as a curator and educator. My specific area of expertise is photo history and criticism. I like to remind people that the medium of photography actually has many histories. Some of these--like those which foreground women and BIPOC photographers, and forms of popular photography--have only recently begun to gain attention. I also enjoy the history of photographic processes. Many processes that seem unusual to us now (daguerreotypes, cyanotypes, tintypes, salted paper prints, etc.) were once cutting-edge technologies! I've studied a wide range of subjects and as a result, favor interdisciplinary approaches to research. I also support pursuing experiences that broaden and deepen our frameworks for understanding. I firmly believe that learning is a lifelong endeavor.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Photo-Based Fiction

Have you ever found a snapshot that really captured your imagination? Maybe you've seen loose photographs at an antique store, or discovered charming photos of your relatives from when they were younger. Together, we'll allow these photographs to open up researchable historical questions. You'll combine this research with your imagination and creative writing skills to craft fictional narratives around these photographs.

Historical Dinner Parties

Using online research tools (like the New York Public Library's archive of historical menus, for example), you'll develop a series of historically-accurate dinner parties for your friends and family. You'll research food and culinary histories to source recipes, plan menus, and write descriptions that help to set the scene. Specific details about class, climate, traditions, and trade routes (among other considerations) will help your guests imagine how it might've felt to share a meal together in specific parts of the world, at specific points in time.

Project 3

Languages I know

English, French, German

Teaching experience

In 2006, I spent a year in France teaching elementary school students how to speak English. Since then, I've taught many undergraduate and graduate courses in art history and the humanities. I've also mentored individual research projects as a preceptor for the MA Program in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. I particularly enjoy helping students discover creative ways to present their research.


Work experience

Columbus Museum of Art (2018 - 2020)
William and Sarah Ross Soter Assistant Curator of Photography
Smith College (2015 - 2018)
Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in the History of Photography
University of Chicago, Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (2011 - 2015)


Washington University in St. Louis
BA Bachelor of Arts (2005)
English Literature and Comparative Arts
University of Chicago
PhD Doctor of Philosophy (2015)
Art History

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