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Rachel Teukolsky

Associate Professor

Rachel Teukolsky is an Associate Professor of English at Vanderbilt University. Her research focuses on aesthetics, art writing, and media history in nineteenth-century Britain. She is the author of The Literate Eye: Victorian Art Writing and Modernist Aesthetics (Oxford, 2009), 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 project also bridges the disciplines of literary and visual studies. Its provisional title is Picture World: Aesthetics, Visual Culture, and Victorian New Media. The book analyzes the ways that new forms of visual culture worked to shape key Victorian aesthetic concepts. 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, Picture World shows how their ubiquitous visual codes helped to form essential notions in Victorian aesthetics—keywords such as illustration, the picturesque, realism, and sensation.

Teukolsky has published articles on anti-slavery in Dickens, newspapers and George Eliot, and the “white girls” of sensation fiction. 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. She has taught courses in Victorian literature, poetics, the nineteenth-century novel, word and image, colonial and postcolonial literature, the histories of criminality, and ideas of “nature.”