Elizabeth Athens

Assistant Professor of Art History


M.Phil., Ph.D., Yale University
M.A., Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art
B.A., Lawrence University

Research Interests

Art and Natural History in the Eighteenth-Century; History of Collecting and Display; American Material and Visual Culture

Elizabeth Athens received her Ph.D from Yale University. She is an art historian with research interests in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century art and natural history, the art of empire, and the history of collecting. Before coming to the University of Connecticut she worked at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts in Washington, DC, where she contributed to the digital humanities resource History of Early American Landscape Design, and also served as the curator of American art at the Worcester Art Museum. While at Worcester, she co-organized the traveling exhibition Coming Away: Winslow Homer and England and co-authored its catalogue.

Athens’s research has been published in The Oxford Art Journal, History of Photography, and J18: A Journal of Eighteenth-Century Art and Culture. She is currently at work on a book project that examines the graphic practice of the eighteenth-century American naturalist, William Bartram.


Selected Publications

  • In development: Figuring a World: William Bartram’s Natural History
  • “Lively Pictures: William Bartram’s Drawing ad vivum,” in forthcoming volume, ed. Kathryn Holland Braund (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, date TBD).
  • Contributing author, “History of Early American Landscape Design” digital resource, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art.
  • “Turning to England” and “The Gale,” in Coming Away: Winslow Homer and England, exh. cat. (New Haven: Yale University Press; Worcester, MA: Worcester Art Museum, 2017).
  • “The Vital Ornament: Natural Philosophy in William Hogarth’s The Analysis of Beauty (1753),” Oxford Art Journal 40:3 (Dec. 2017): 397–418.
  • “Relic, Photograph, Text: Picturing History in Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War,” History of Photography 41:1 (Feb. 2017): 76–89.
  • Chaotic Life: Representing the Freshwater Polyp,” J18: A Journal of Eighteenth-Century Art and Culture (Aug. 2016).
  • William Bartram’s Inimitable Picture: Representation as the Pursuit of Natural Knowledge,” Journal of Florida Studies 1:4 (Dec. 2015).

Invited Presentations

  • “Winslow Homer and the North Sea,” Cape Ann Museum, Nov. 2019
  • “‘What then is an American?’: Winslow Homer and American Art,” Milwaukee Art Museum, Feb. 2018
  • “Winslow Homer: Turning to England,” Worcester Art Museum, Dec. 2017
  • Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War (1866): A Civil War Reliquary,” Dartmouth College, Sept. 2017
  • “Solar Microscopy’s Virtual Reality,” gallery talk, The Philosophy Chamber: Art and Science in Harvard’s Teaching Cabinet, 1766–1820, Harvard Art Museums, Aug. 2017
  • “‘A Lively Animated Picture’: William Bartram and Drawing ad vivum,” Bartram Trail Conference, Mar. 2017
  • “The Economies of Landscape,” Experience Economies: Landscape Experience, Mildred’s Lane, July 2015

Newspaper/Radio/Other Media

Elizabeth Athens headshot
Contact Information