Vanessa Schwartz

Professor of History and Art History

Contact Information
E-mail: vschwart@usc.edu
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.


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

  • 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, http://usc.edu/visualstudies
    • Visualizing the Past Project, Director, http://www.usc.edu/visualstudies

    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

    • 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 http://journals.cambridge.org/urbanicons, 2005-2006   
    • Web Project, Visualizing the Past Project: resource on how to use, study and cite images., Spring 2009   

    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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