Department of Art & Art History

Emily Burns

Emily Burns


108 Biggin Hall
(334) 844-4318


  • PhD, Art History and Archaeology, Washington University–St. Louis

Office Hours

    By appointment

About Emily Burns
Associate Professor

Dr. Burns is on academic leave for 2020-21 as the Terra Foundation for American Art Visiting Professor at Oxford.

Dr. Burns’s research analyzes the circulation of artists and objects in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and interprets how mobility shapes visual culture and cultural discourses of modernism and nationalism. It asks how circulation is framed within the materiality of objects, and how meanings change through transit and exhibition practices.

Her book Transnational Frontiers: the American West in France (2018) analyzes appropriations of the American West in France in performance and visual and material culture in the tripartite international relationships between the United States, France, and the Lakota nation between 1867 and 1914. Images of the American West appeared in France in an array of media—paintings, postcards, magazine illustrations, architectural decoration, photographs, live performance and film. Building on research completed for this book, she co-edited (with Agathe Cabau) a special issue on the American West in France for Transatlantica (2019) featuring eight essays, and continues to develop articles on Lakota performers’ intermedia identity constructions and contemporary Oglala Lakota artist Arthur Amiotte’s collage series that re-imagines Buffalo Bill’s Wild West travelers in fin-de-siècle Europe.

Her current book project, Performing Innocence: Cultural Belatedness and U.S. Art in Fin-de-Siècle Paris, analyzes a diverse interwoven set of constructions of US cultural innocence and belatedness in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century France. As French artists and critics came to imagine U.S. artistic belatedness, many individuals adopted and performed ideas of cultural youth and innocence reciprocally in response to international expectations of US character. In this transnational relationship, the U.S. community in Paris paradoxically adopted the stereotypes associated with a naïve U.S. culture in social interactions as well as through iconographic and stylistic choices in their art. This discursive history analyzes artists’ letters and journals, and visual and material culture including painting, photography, magazine and book illustrations, pottery, furniture, cultural performances, architectural spaces, and sculpture of the U.S. artists’ colony and tourist travel in Paris to show that Americans abroad enhanced a mythology that claimed cultural innocence in response to European expectations. Each chapter deconstructs a distinct period-specific use of innocence, naïveté, and belatedness, and considers the mechanisms of its performance for its transnational audience. She also co-edited (with Alice M. Rudy Price) an anthology, Mapping Impressionist Painting in Transnational Contexts, that combines microhistories on the transnational circulations of impressionism (forthcoming from Routledge).

Her research has been supported by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Baird Library Society of Fellows, the Walter Read Hovey Memorial Foundation, the University of Nottingham, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the New England Regional Library Consortium, and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, WY.

Classes Taught

Dr. Burns offers courses on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European and U.S. art, constructions of race in visual culture, the arts of Asia, Introduction to Art History, and Foundations of Art History I.

Representative Publications


“‘Nothing but Daubs’: The Translation of Impressionism in the United States.” In Globalizing Impressionism: Reception, Translation, Transnationalism, ed. by Alexis Clark and Frances Fowle. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020.


“St. Luke’s Chapel, US Artists’ Communities, and Protestantism in Paris, 1891–1914.” In Artistic Migration and Identity in Paris, 1870-1940 / Migration artistique et identité à Paris, 1870-1940, ed. by Steven Huebner and Federico Lazzaro, 137–52. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2020.


“Cultural Belatedness, Singularity and American Impressionism.” In America’s Impressionism: Echoes of a Revolution, by Amanda C. Burdan, 51–63. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020.


Review of David Raizman and Ethan Robey, eds., Expanding Nationalisms at World’s Fairs: Identity, Diversity, and Exchange, 1851-1915. London: Routledge, 2017. Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 19, no. 1 (Spring 2020).



“Call and Answer: Dialoging the American West in France.” Special issue of Transatlantica comprising 8 essays, co-edited with Agathe Cabau, published 2019 as issue 2 of 2017.


“Circulating Regalia and Lakota Survivance, c. 1900.” Arts Magazine, 8, no. 146 (2019), special issue on “Native Sovereignty and Visual Survivance: Indigenous Visual and Material Culture in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” edited by Sascha T. Scott and Amy Lonetree.


“Spectral Figures: Edward Hopper’s Empty Paris.” In Empty Spaces: Confronting Emptiness in National, Cultural and Urban History, edited by Courtney J. Campbell, Allegra Giovine, and Jennifer Keating, 113–134. London: University of London Press, 2019.


Review of Emma I. Hansen, Plains Indian Buffalo Cultures: Art from the Paul Dyck Collection. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2018. Great Plains Quarterly, 39, no. 4 (Fall 2019): 386–387.


Review of Jana Wijnsouw. National Identity and Nineteenth-Century Franco-Belgian Sculpture. New York: Routledge, 2018. H-France Review 19, 199 (October 2019) 1–3.



Transnational Frontiers: the American West in France (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2018). Recipient of the 2017 Terra Foundation for American Art International Publication Grant through the College Art Association.


“Imperialist Nostalgia or Political Contestation? Cyrus Dallin’s American Indian Equestrian Monuments.” Archives of American Art Journal, 57, no.1 (Spring 2018): 4–21.


“A baby’s unconsciousness” in Sculpture: Modernism, Nationalism, Frederick MacMonnies and George Grey Barnard in fin-de-siècle Paris.” Sculpture Journal 27, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 89–103.


“Art, Ethnography and Politics: the Transnational Context of Bierstadt’s The Last of the Buffalo in Paris.” In Albert Bierstadt: Witness to a Changing West, by Peter H. Hassrick, 123–150­­. Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 2018.


“‘With Eyes Half Shut’: George Grey Barnard, the innocent eye, and American nationalism in Paris.” In Prestige in Modern and Contemporary Sculpture: Modern Sculpture and the Question of Status, ed. by Cristina Rodriguez-Samaniego and Irene Gras Valero. Barcelona: Colleccio Singularitats, 2018.


Response to Alexander Nemerov, “Art is Not the Archive.” Archives of American Art Journal, 57 no. 2 (Fall 2018): 67–69.



“Taming a ‘Savage’ Paris: The Visual Culture of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and France as a new American Frontier.” In The Popular Frontier: Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Transnational Mass Culture, edited by Frank Christianson, 129–154. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2017.


“Perturber les stereotypes: les amérindiens en France, à la fin du XIXsiècle et au début du XXe siècle,” and “Les artistes français et les amérindiens à la fin du XIXsiècle.” In Le Scalp et le Calumet, edited by Annick Notter, 106–116; 158–169. La Rochelle: Musée du Nouveau Monde, 2017.


“‘Local Color’: Social Art History, Global Impressionism, and Comparative Interpretation.” Response to Questionnaire on Impressionism and the Social History of Art, edited by Alexis Clark, H-France Salon 9, issue 14, #2 (2017): 1–4.


Review of Sascha T. Scott, A Strange Mixture: The Art and Politics of Painting Pueblo Indians. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2015. Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art 3, no. 1 (Summer 2017).


Review of Melissa Dabakis, A Sisterhood of Sculptures: American Artists in Nineteenth-Century Rome. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2014. CAA reviews, March 2017.



“Wandering Pictures: Locating Cosmopolitanism in Frederick A. Bridgman’s The Funeral of a Mummy on the Nile.” In Locating American Art: Finding Art’s Meaning in Museums, Colonial Period to the Present, edited by Cynthia Fowler, 109–124. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2016.


Fata Morgana: Jean-André Castaigne, the American Indian, and American Artistic Aspirations in France.” Panorama 2, no. 1 (Summer 2016).


“Belatedness, Artlessness and American Culture in fin-de-siècle France.” Americans in Paris colloquy, edited by Natalia Cecire, Arcade: Literature, the Humanities & the World, Stanford University, March 4, 2016.



“Of a Kind Hitherto Unknown’: The American Art Association of Paris in 1908.” Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 14, no. 1 (Spring 2015).


“The Itinerant John Mix Stanley and the Circulating Spectacle of the West in Mid-Century America.” In Painted Journeys: The Art of John Mix Stanley, by Peter H. Hassrick and Mindy A. Besaw, 1–31. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2015.


“Revising Bohemia: The American Artist Colony in Paris, 1890-1914.” Foreign Artists and Communities in Modern Paris, 1870-1914: Strangers in Paradise, edited by Karen L. Carter and Susan Waller, 186–209. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2015.


“Puritan Parisians: American Art Students in Late Nineteenth-Century Paris.” In A Seamless Web: Transatlantic Art in the Nineteenth Century, edited by Cheryll May and Marian Wardle, 123–146. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Press Scholars, 2014.



“The Old World Anew: The Atlantic as the Liminal Site of Expectations.” In Framing the Ocean, 1700 to the Present: Envisaging the Sea as Social Space, edited by Tricia Cusack, 37–54. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2014.



“Wildlife and the Sporting Man.” In Art of the American Frontier: from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, by Stephanie Mayer Heydt, Mindy A. Besaw, and Emma Hansen, 109­–110. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013.


"Nationality, Modern Art, and the Child in Late Nineteenth-Century Painting." In Children and Childhood: Practices and Perspectives, edited by Chandni Basu and Vicky Anderson-Patton, 45–59. Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2013.

Forthcoming Publications

“The Conceivable Global in the European Nineteenth Century.” Review essay on Is Paris Still the Capital of the Nineteenth Century?, ed. by André Dombrowski and Hollis Clayson and Civilization and Nineteenth-Century Art: A European concept in global context, ed. by David O’Brien. Nineteenth-Century Studies 31 (2019; expected summer 2020).

“Hide and Seek: Ellen Emmet Rand, Childhood, and US Art Study in Paris, c. 1898.” In Ellen Emmet Rand: Gender, Art and Business, ed. by Alexis M. Boylan. New York: Bloomsbury Press. Under contract, expected November 2020.

“Les yeux voyagent: les américains en France et l’impressionisme américain.” Quand les impressionnistes américains rencontraient les peintres français, ed. by Lonnie Baverel and Frédérique Thomas-Maurin. Ornans: Musée Gustave Courbet, expected 2020.

“Siŋté Máza (Iron Tail)'s Image Inversions.” “In the Round” on “Re-Reading American Photographs,” ed. by Monica Bravo and Emily L. Voelker, Panorama 6, no. 2 (Fall 2020).

Mapping Impressionist Painting in Transnational Contexts, co-ed. with Alice M. Rudy Price. New York: Routledge, expected February 2021.

“Frontier Impressionisms in the United States and Australia.” In Mapping Impressionist Painting in Transnational Contexts, ed. Emily C. Burns and Alice M. Rudy Price. New York: Routledge, expected February 2021.

Last Updated: September 08, 2020