Research & Practice Areas
American art and visual culture; visual, literary, and theatrical humor; intersections between elite and popular forms of expression; race and the politics of visuality; the visuality of text; magazines and commercial illustration; the history of advertising theory and practice
Jennifer Greenhill joined USC in 2015 from the University of Illinois, where she taught since 2007. Her research focuses on nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American art and visual culture, with an emphasis on intermedial and intercultural objects, race and the politics of visuality, and intersections between elite and popular forms of expression. In 2014 she served as the Terra Foundation for American Art Visiting Professor at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris, France, an experience that reinforced her commitment to thinking about “American” art from a broad range of perspectives. She teaches an undergraduate Thematic Option honors course on “The Art and Artifice of Americana” and, in 2019, published a piece on American art in the Trump era in The Atlantic.
Greenhill’s first book, Playing It Straight: Art and Humor in the Gilded Age (University of California Press, 2012), investigates the strategies artists devised to simultaneously conform to and humorously undermine “serious” culture during the late nineteenth century, when calls for a new cultural sophistication ran headlong into a growing public appetite for humor. Exploring paintings, sculpture, and architectural projects that play it straight in various ways, the book offers a new look at well-known artists (such as Winslow Homer and Augustus Saint-Gaudens) and revises existing conceptions of how the period’s visual humor works. Her second book, A Companion to American Art (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015), is a co-edited collection of 35 essays by leading scholars who debate the geographic, historiographic, material and conceptual borders of the field. Her essay for the book examines the politics of “close looking” and argues for an expansive and diffuse conception of the visual in writing about race. An article underway, on Gordon Parks’s atmospheric approach to color in his first feature-length film, The Learning Tree (Warner Bros.-Seven Arts, 1969), further develops these ideas.
Greenhill’s current book project, Commercial Imagination: American Art and the Advertising Picture, explores the efforts of commercial artists, art directors, advertisers, and psychologists to develop visual strategies of suggestive advertising circa 1900. Putting the American advertising industry in dialogue with developments in Canada, the UK, France, Germany, and elsewhere, the book looks at the impact of research in psychology on the period’s advertising design, and situates contemporary digital sales techniques in the context of this history. Artists, companies, and theorists addressed include Maxfield Parrish, Kodak, and Hugo Münsterberg.
Several institutions have supported Greenhill’s work on these various projects, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Wyeth Foundation for American Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Huntington Library, the Hagley Center for the History of Business, Technology, and Society, and the John H. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising and Marketing Research at Duke University.
- Ph.D. History of Art, Yale University, 2007
- M.A. History of Art, Williams College/Clark Art Institute Graduate Program, 2000
Tenure Track Appointments
- Associate Professor, University of Southern California, 2015 –
- Associate Professor, The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2013 – 2015
- Assistant Professor, The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2007 – 2013
Visiting and Temporary Appointments
- Visiting Professor, Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Paris, France,
- Greenhill, Jennifer A., John Davis, Jason LaFountain (Ed.). (2015). A Companion to American Art. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell Press. Wiley Blackwell
- Greenhill, J. A. (2012). Playing It Straight: Art and Humor in the Gilded Age. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press. UC Press
- Greenhill, J. A. (2019). “Maxfield Parrish’s Creative Machinery for Transportation” in Corporate Patronage of Art & Architecture in the United States, Late 19th Century to the Present. pp. 39-62. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019.
- Greenhill, J. A. (2019). “Selling Structures: The Periodical Page and the Art of Suggestive Advertising c. 1900” in Visuelles Design. Die Journalseite all gestaltete Fläche / Visual Design: The Periodical Page as a Designed Surface. pp. 427-50. Hannover: Wehrhahn Verlag, 2019.
- Greenhill, J. A. (2015). “Look Away”. A Companion to American Art pp. 128-145. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell Press.
- Greenhill, J. A. (2009). “Illustrating the Shadow of Doubt: Henry James, Blindness, and ‘The Real Thing'”. Elective Affinities pp. 261-280. Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi. International Association of Word and Image Studies
- Greenhill, J. A. (2015). Review of Gregory H. Williams, “Permission to Laugh: Humor and Politics in Contemporary German Art” (2012). Art Bulletin. pp. 107-110.
- Greenhill, J. A. (2015). “Andrew Wyeth: A Vital Art Between the Lines,” review of David Caterforis, ed., “Rethinking Andrew Wyeth” (2014). Art Journal. pp. 75-8.
- Greenhill, J. A. (2008). Review of Patricia Johnston, ed., “Seeing High & Low: Representing Social Conflict in American Visual Culture” (2006). CAA Reviews.
- Greenhill, J. A. (2019). “Trump’s Court Artist”. The Atlantic, “Ideas: Arguments, Essays, Inquiries” section (October 13, 2019). The Atlantic
- Greenhill, J. A. (2019). “Illustration Beside Painting: Kenyon Cox and Maxfield Parrish” in For America: The Art of the National Academy. pp. 104-111. New York, NY. American Federation of Arts, 2019.
- Greenhill, J. A. (2017). “A Dark Business” (short essay for 30th anniversary issue). pp. 23-4. American Art.
- Greenhill, J. A., LaFountain, J. D., Davis, J. (2015). “Introduction: American Art History Now, A Snapshot” A Companion to American Art. (Greenhill, Jennifer A., John Davis, Jason LaFountain, Ed.). pp. 1-12. Oxford. Wiley-Blackwell Press.
- Greenhill, J. A. (2014). “Domestic Magic: Floating ‘Friendly Thoughts’ of Art and Commerce All the Days of the Year”. (Christine B. Podmaniczky, Ed.). pp. 7-11. Chadds Ford, PA. The Brandywine River Museum.
- Greenhill, J. A. (2019). “How To Make It as a Mainstream Magazine Illustrator; or, J.C. Leyendecker and Norman Rockwell Go To War”. Winterthur Portfolio. Vol. 52: 4 (Winter 2018), pp. 209-252. Winterthur Portfolio
- Greenhill, J. A. (2017). “Flip, Linger, Glide: Coles Phillips and the Movements of Magazine Pictures”. Art History. Vol. 40: 3 (June 2017), pp. 582-611. Art History
- Greenhill, J. A. (2012). “Humor in cold dead type: performing Artemus Ward’s London panorama lecture in print”. Word & Image. Vol. 28: 3 (July-September 2012), pp. 257-272. Word & Image
- Greenhill, J. A. (2011). “Troubled Abstraction: Whiteness in Charles Dana Gibson and George Du Maurier”. Art History. Vol. 34: 4 (September 2011), pp. 732-753. Art History
- Greenhill, J. A. (2009). “Winslow Homer and the Mechanics of Visual Deadpan”. Art History. Vol. 32: 2 (April 2009), pp. 351-386. Art History
- Greenhill, J. A. (2007). “The View from Outside: Rockwell and Race in 1950”. American Art. Vol. 21: 2 (Summer 2007), pp. 70-95. American Art via JSTOR
- Greenhill, J. A. (2003). “Playing the Fool: David Claypoole Johnston and the Menial Labor of Caricature”. American Art. Vol. 17: 3 (Fall 2003), pp. 32-51. American Art via JSTOR
- Joe and Wanda Corn Senior Fellowship, Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, 2018-2019
- Terra Foundation International Research Travel Grant, 2018-2019
- Alvin Achenbaum Travel Grant, John H. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising and Marketing History, Duke University, Fall 2018
- Tyson Scholars Fellowship, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, 2018/08-2018/10
- Chris and George Benter Short-Term Fellowship , 2018/07-2018/08
- NEH-Hagley Postdoctoral Fellowship on Business, Culture, and Society, 2017-2018
- Short-Term Postdoctoral Fellowship, Winterthur Institute, DE, 2018/05-2018/06
- Society for the Preservation of American Modernists publication grant, Spring 2016
- Terra Foundation for American Art Visiting Professorship, Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Paris France, 2013-2014
- Terra Foundation for American Art Visiting Professorship, John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Berlin, Germany (declined), 2013-2014
- Terra Foundation for American Art Publication Grant for “A Companion to American Art”, Fall 2012
- Wyeth Foundation for American Art Publication Grant for “A Companion to American Art”, Fall 2012
- Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, College of Fine and Applied Arts, The University of Illinois, 2011-2012
- Beckman Fellowship, Center for Advanced Study, The University of Illinois, 2010-2011
- Barbara Thom Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2010-2011
- Wyeth Foundation for American Art Publication Grant for “Playing It Straight: Art and Humor in the Gilded Age”, Spring 2011
- Winterthur Institute, Winterthur, DE, 2007-2008
Editorships and Editorial Boards
- Advisory and Editorial boards, Journal of Illustration”, 2013 –
- Editorial board, Studies in American Humor”, 2012 –
- Editorial board, Winterthur Portfolio”, 2013 – 2020