Phyllis Thompson


  • Domesticity, representations, food, motherhood

Course idea:

Selfies (history of self-portraits in visual culture & literature, regulation of gender therein; visual cultures of the body; representation as a site of protest)

Phyllis Thompson is a cultural historian who works on nineteenth- and twentieth-century American topics. Her book project, Domestic Pleasures: Dreams of Hope and Fulfillment in American Home Life, traces the intellectual history of the idea of pleasure in private life. It focuses on representations of gendered pleasure as they circulated in literary, prescriptive, and popular texts and images during a pair of Gilded Ages a century apart. A second project addresses the development of taste as a transatlantic phenomenon, with a particular focus on taste-makers and their evolving qualifications.

She received her doctorate in American Studies, with a graduate certificate in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, from Harvard University. She additionally holds an A.M. in History from Harvard, an M.A. in American Civilization from Brown University, and a B.A. in English Literature from Yale University. From 2013-2014 she was the Visiting Scholar in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Northeastern University.

Thompson maintains active research interests in representations of gender, race, and class; the body; the family and domesticity; childhood; the intellectual histories of love and beauty; food; DIY culture; the relationship between text and image; the history of sexuality and gender; and gender politics. Before her academic career she worked as an editor of photography books at Aperture Foundation in New York City.

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