Rachel Teukolsky received her B.A. from Harvard college in 1996, double majoring in English and art history. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004, after which she taught at Penn State University. Since arriving at Vanderbilt in 2009, she has taught graduate and undergraduate seminars on Victorian literature, visual culture, poetics, the nineteenth-century novel, the histories of criminality, and ideas of “nature.”
Her first book, The Literate Eye: Victorian Art Writing and Modernist Aesthetics, was published by Oxford University Press in 2009, and was awarded the Sonya Rudikoff Prize by the Northeast Victorian Studies Association in 2010. The book examines the large and influential archive of Victorian “art writing,” or essays and criticism addressed to the visual arts. Though scholars usually locate a break between aesthetic values of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, especially by contrasting the realist novel with later experimental art, The Literate Eye reveals a continuity between Victorian art writing and the ensuing modernist fascination with form, abstraction, and avant-gardism.
Her current research project also bridges the disciplines of literary and visual studies. Provisionally titled Aesthetic Networks: Victorian New Media and the Idea of Art, the book analyzes the ways that new media technologies influenced Victorian ideas about high art, especially in the realm of visual culture. Chapters consider different kinds of emergent visual media in the nineteenth century, including pictorial newspapers, photographs, stereoscopic views, illustrated magazines, and advertising posters. Though these objects have often been categorized as disposable ephemera, Aesthetic Networks shows how their ubiquitous visual codes helped to shape essential notions in Victorian aesthetics—keywords such as illustration, picturesque, realism, and sensation.
Teukolsky’s essays have appeared in PMLA, ELH, NOVEL, Victorian Studies, and edited collections on Walter Pater and the Great Exhibition. She is currently a co-organizer of Vanderbilt’s 18th-/19th-C Colloquium, which invites scholars from across the country to present work-in-progress to faculty and students.