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Vanessa Schwartz

Professor of History and Art History

Contact Information
Phone: (213) 740-8494
Office: SOS 170

Curriculum Vitae
Personal Website
VSGC Faculty Page

Biographical Sketch

Vanessa R. Schwartz is Professor of History, Art History and Film and directed the Visual Studies Graduate Certificate, from 2006-2009. An historian on modern visual culture, she was trained in Modern European History with a concentration on France and urban culture at Princeton (Phi Beta Kappa, 1986) and UC Berkeley where she received her Phd in 1993. The author of It’s So French! Hollywood, Paris and the Making of Cosmopolitan Film Culture (University of Chicago, 2007) and Spectacular Realities: Early Mass Culture in fin-de-siècle Paris (University of California, 1998), she is now working the history of “the jet age” and is writing, for Oxford University Press, "A Very Short Introduction to Modern France." She has also co-edited two volumes, Cinema and the Invention of Modern Life (California, 1995) and The Nineteenth Century Visual Culture Reader (Routledge, 2004). She co-edited a special issue of Urban History (Cambridge, 2006) with her colleague, Phil Ethington, called “Urban Icons” which includes a multi-media companion.


Ph.D. History, University of California, Berkeley, 5/1993
M.A. History, University of California, Berkeley, 5/1989
B.A. History, Princeton University, 6/1986

Academic Appointment, Affiliation, and Employment History

Tenure Track Appointments

Professor, History and Art History, University of Southern California, 01/01/2007-  
Associate Professor of History, University of Southern California, 01/01/2000-  
Associate Professor of History, The American University, Washington, D.C., 01/01/1999-01/01/2000  
Assistant Professor of History, The American University, Washington D.C., 01/01/1993-01/01/1999  

Visiting and Temporary Appointments

Carl and Marilyn Thoma Visiting Professorship in the Arts and Humanities, Art History Department, Stanford University, Spring 2012   
Visiting Distinguished Professor, Sorbonne, Paris, Spring 2011   

Description of Research

Summary Statement of Research Interests

Professor Schwartz is a historian of modern visual culture, whose research and writing in the past decade has concentrated on the emergence of film in the crucible of the urban culture of late nineteenth century Paris. She is now working on photojournalism as well as a project on the advent of the jet age. Her interests reach across fields into art history, urban studies, and cinema studies. "'It's So French': Hollywood, Paris and the Making of Cosmopolitan Film Culture" (University of Chicago Press, 2007) looks at film culture in the 1950s between France and America in order to re-think the history of the globalization of culture. She published Modern France: A Very Short Introduction in 2011 (Oxford UP). She has recently edited special issues of Etudes Photographiques and The Journal of Visual Culture. Professor Schwartz co-edited a special issue of Urban History with Phil Ethington, called "Urban Icons" which includes a multi-media version of the issue. She directed the Visual Studies Graduate Certificate from 2006-2009.

Research Keywords

France, urban, visual culture, film, twentieth century, transatlantic culture, entertainment, aviation and history of transportation and technology

Research Specialties

Modern Visual Culture, especially film; photojournalism; Modern Europe, France; Urban History, Paris, Aviation, Jets, Airports.

Funded Research

Contracts and Grants Awarded

Visual History: The Past In Pictures (Mellon Sawyer Seminar), Vanessa Schwartz, Daniela Bleicher, $175,000, 2016-2017   
Caught In the Act: History of Photojournalism Conference (Borchard Foundation), Vanessa Schwartz, $35,000, 2008-2009   
Digital Dove Project (California Council for the Humanities), Covenant House, $80,000, 06/01/2007-06/01/2008  

USC Funding

Successful Funding Proposal. Visual Studies Research Institute: College 20/20 Proposal. Kate Flint, PI., $300,000, 2010-2011   
USC Provost's Office, Advancing Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The Dawn of the Jet Age: Research Project on the effect of the introduction of jets on culture of time and space., $17,500, 07/01/2009-08/01/2010  
Graduate Dean Funding. Grant-Writing Workshop: Organized and Executed a day-long intensive grant-writing workshop for graduate students in the Visual Studies Graduate Certificate (although open to other students in the College)., $6,800, Fall 2008   
Shoah Foundation Grant. Teaching with the Oral Testimonies: With the help of a graduate assistant, I culled materials from the Shoah Foundation to use in classes I teach, not related to the Holocaust., $5,000, Fall 2008   

Proposals Submitted

Haynes Foundations, Successful, Vanessa Schwartz, $12,000, 06/01/2010-08/25/2010  

Affiliations with Research Centers, Labs, and Other Institutions

Visual Studies Research Lab, Co-Director,
Visualizing the Past Project, Director,

Conferences and Other Presentations

Conference Presentations

""Material Culture Meets the Jet Age"", Objecting, Lecture/Seminar, New Haven, Center for European Studies, Yale, Invited, 2010-2011   
"There's Always a Tomorrowland", Urban History Association, Talk/Oral Presentation, Refereed Las Vegas, Urban History Association, 2010-2011   
""Cinéhistoire"", Film and History in Honor of Marc Ferro, Lecture/Seminar, Paris, Ecole des Hautes Etudes, Invited, 2009-2010   
"Plenary Speaker "Who Killed Brigitte Bardot? Reassessing the New Wave" ", Plenary Speaker "Who Killed Brigitte Bardot? Reassessing the New Wave" International Conference in C, Keynote Lecture, London, King's College, French Institute, Invited, 03/06/2009-03/08/2009  
"Choreographing Space: Speed and Fluid Motion in the Jet Age", International History of Aviation Conference, Keynote Lecture, Paris, Arts et Metiers, Air France, Ecole des Ponts, Invited, 11/08/2008-11/11/2008  
"The Historians' Eye", Gift of History: Celebration on Natalie Davis, Talk/Oral Presentation, Harvard, Radcliffe Institute, Invited, 11/06/2008-11/08/2008  
"Choreographing Space: Speed and Fluid Motion in the Jet Age", Intermedial Cities, Keynote Lecture, Montreal, Media at McGill, Invited, 10/05/2008-10/07/2008  
"Comment on Celebrity", Celebrity in Nineteenth Century Europe, Comment, NYU, Spring 2007   

Other Presentations

"The Long Belle Epoque", Weiss Endowed Seminar, Arts and Humanities Institute, Penn State, State College, PA, Spring 2009   
"Around the World with Mike Todd", Lecture, Screen Studies, Concordia, Montreal, Fall 2008   
"Distinguished Guest: Walter Benjamin and Seeing Past History as Usual", Transvisuality Workshop, Visual Culture Working Group, Heidelberg, Fall 2008   
""The Cannes Film Festival and the Origins of Paparazzi Photography"", Getty Research Institute, Works in Progress Series , Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, 2007-2008   
""The Cannes Film Festival" ", Invited Lecture, LA Institute for the Humanities, Los Angeles, 2007-2008   
""The Long Half-Life of Nineteenth Century Paris" ", Invited Lecture, Art History, Nineteenth-Century Studies, UBC, Vancouver, 2007-2008   
"Film Festivals: Cannes", Panel Participant, Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Philadelphia, 2007-2008   
""The Spectacle of the Dead"", Special Lecture, Vienna Museum, Vienna, 06/2007  
"It's So French", Invited Lecture, William and Mary, American Studies, Williamsburg, 04/2007  
"Seeing Past History as Usual", Historical Institute, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 04/2007  
"Plenary Comment", Transport, Technologie et Mobilite, T2M, Paris, 09/2006  



Schwartz, V. R. (2010). A Very Short Introduction: Modern France. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Schwartz, V. R. (2008). French Translation of "It's So French!". Editions Complexe, Paris.
Schwartz, V. R. (2007). It's So French! Hollywood, Paris and the Making of Cosmopolitan Film Culture. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
Schwartz, V. R., Przyblyski, J. (2005). The Nineteenth Century Visual Culture Reader. London, UK / New York, NY: Routledge.
Schwartz, V. R. (1998). Spectacular Realities: Early Mass Culture in fin-de-siècle Paris, University of California Press, 1998. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Schwartz, V. R. (1995). Co-Editor, with Leo Charney: Cinema and the Invention of Modern Life, University of California Press, 1995. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Book Chapter

Schwartz, V. R. (2008). Guide to Graduate Student Dissertation Writing, "Bowling for Dollars: On Grant-Writing". American Historical Association.
Schwartz, V. R. (2007). Film and History in Sage Handbook to Film Studies. pp. pp.199-215.
Schwartz, V. R. (2007). "Massenpresse und Spektakel: Der Pariser Leichauhaus im Fin de Siècle" in Wener Michael Schwarz, Margarethe Szeless and Lisa Wogenstein eds., Ganz Unten, Die Entdeckung des Elends (Vienna, Vien Museum, 2007) p. 53-59. Vienna: Ganz Unten.

Journal Article

Schwartz, V. R. (2006). Urban Icons. Urban History/Cambridge University Press. Vol. Vol. 33 (No. 1), pp. May 2006.
Schwartz, V. R. (2006). Afterword: The Promise and Perils of Visual Culture's Big Tent. Visual Resources. Vol. Vol. XXII (No. 1), pp. March 2006, pp. 81-85.
Schwartz, V. R. (2001). Walter Benjamin for Historians. American Historical Review/Indiana University. Vol. v.106, pp. n.5 1721-1743..

Multimedia Scholarship and Creative Works

Web Project, Visualizing the Past Project: resource on how to use, study and cite images., Spring 2009   
Multi-Media Journal, "Urban Icons" is a multi-media web project about cities and visual culture. Please see the link at Also co-designed the creation of a multi-media companion to the special issue, currently available for review at, 2005-2006   

Honors and Awards

Guggenheim Fellowship Recipient, 2017-2018   
Cullman Center, New York Public Library, 2015-2016   
USC Raubenheimer Outstanding Senior Faculty Award, Fall 2009   
Mellon Graduate Mentoring Award, Spring 2009   
Social Science Research Council DPDF Workshop, 5/1/2007-9/1/2007  
USC Zumberge Research and Innovation Fund Award, Visual Culture Project, 2004-2005  
Gamma Sigma Alpha, Professor of the Year, 2004  
USC Center for Interdisciplinary Research, 2002-2003  
USC Associates Award For Excellence In Teaching, Popular Culture/Visual Culture, 2001-2002  
Fellow, Humanitie Research Institute, UCI, 1997  
Fulbright Award, Fellowship, 1990-1991  

Service to the University

Administrative Appointments

Director, Visual Studies Graduate Certificate, 09/01/2006-07/01/2009  


Member, University Research Committee, 2006-2007   

Service to the Profession


Chair, Founding Curator, AHA Film Festival, 2006-2007   
Member, Program Committee, AHA, 2006-2007   

Conferences Organized

Co-Organizer with Lynn Hunt, Capturing the Moment, USC-UCLA, International Invited Conference with Pre-circulated Papers, Spring 2009   
Organizer, Caught in the Act, Missillac, France, International Conference with pre-circulated papers., Spring 2009   

Editorships and Editorial Boards

Editorial Board, Journal of Urban History, 01/01/2009-  
Editorial Board, Journal of Visual Culture, 01/01/2009-  
Editorial Board, Etudes Photographiques, Paris, 01/2007-  
Editorial Board Member, American Historical Review, 2004-2007  

Professional Memberships

College Art Association, 2004-  
American History Association, 1993-  
Society for Cinema and Media Studies, 01/01/1993-  

Media, Alumni, and Community Relations

DVD Bonus Feature, Season Two: Mad Men, Spring 2009   
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