BiographyLela Graybill is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Utah, specializing in the art and visual culture of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She received her Ph.D. in Art History from Stanford University in 2006. Her research and teaching explores historical relationships between the fine arts, popular culture, media technologies, visuality and display.
Her book, The Visual Culture of Violence After the French Revolution, examines how shifting social attitudes, political practices, and technological developments transformed the staging of violence in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Torn between restraint and sensationalism, violent spectacle from the scaffold to the Salon was marked by a palpable response to the new conditions of modern liberal selfhood ushered in by the French Revolution. Where the Old Regime had contextualized scenes of corporeal suffering within a hierarchical religious and political order, violent spectacle at the turn of the nineteenth century appealed to the cult of the individual. Direct corporeal address—prominent, visually descriptive presentations of violated and vulnerable bodies—supplanted a more distanced socio-political paradigm for viewing scenes of violence. This new phenomenology of sensation and shock was variously celebrated and censured in the post-Revolutionary period, echoing the messy and conflictual transition toward modern liberal selfhood taking place in society at large. The Visual Culture of Violence After the French Revolution traces four sites of visual production that exemplify this new visual culture of violence in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, shedding critical light on previously neglected aspects of the period's representations of atrocity.
Her current research project considers visualities of true crime in the 19th century, exploring the diverse visual practices and technologies that developed during that period to situate spectators as witnesses.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
Art History, Visual Studies, Media Studies, French History, British History, Violence, Popular Culture, Eighteenth-Century Studies, Nineteenth-Century Studies