Personal profile

Research overview

Stephanie O’Rourke specializes in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European visual culture, particularly in relation to resource extraction, scientific knowledge, and media technologies. Her publications on this can be found in RepresentationsArt HistoryEighteenth-Century Studies, Journal18 and elsewhere. 

Her second book, Picturing Landscape in an Age of Extraction, is forthcoming with the University of Chicago Press. It argues that 'picturing landscape' was the primary means through which European artists grappled with an enormous transformation in how humans relate to the natural world, characterized by the management and extraction of “natural resources” on an unprecedented scale and within a global network. The challenge for late 18th- and early 19th-century artists lay in creating pictorial modes that could be commensurate with such procedures. Multi-national in its scope, this book explores how European landscapes pictured the natural environment in relation to specific extractive industries such as mining and timber harvesting as well as emerging concepts about race, climate, and waste operative within the continent and its colonial networks.

Her first book (Art, Science and the Body in Early Romanticism, Cambridge University Press), short-listed for the Kenshur Prize for best book in eighteenth-century studies, examines the relationship between art and the production of scientific knowledge at the dawn of the nineteenth century. It reveals some of the ways that artworks were critical actors in a larger epistemological transformation taking place at the twilight of European Enlightenment. A recent article, "Art after Self Evidence," reflects specifically on the status of race and gender in this shift.

She was recently a Saltire Fellow at the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2022) and previously held a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2020). Her research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the Yale Center for British Art, the Royal Academy, the Association for Art History, the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, and elsewhere. From 2013-14 she was a Mellon-funded research fellow at The Museum of Modern Art, where she worked primarily on the exhibition 'Degas: A Strange New Beauty' (2016).

Projects from former institutions

2015-2016       Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Fellowship, Columbia University

2014-2015       Ary Stillman Fellowship, Columbia University

2013-2014       Museum Research Consortium Fellowship, The Museum of Modern Art

2012-2013       International Dissertation Research Fellowship, Social Science Research Council

2012                Visiting Scholar at the Yale Center for British Art

2011                Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship, Social Science Research Council

2011                Cathedral Fund Fellowship, Royal Academy of Arts, London

Profile Keywords

eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European visual culture


BA Harvard University (2008), PhD Columbia University (2016)

Education/Academic qualification

Master of Arts, Columbia University

Master of Philosophy, Columbia University

Bachelor of Arts, Harvard University

Doctor of Philosophy


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