Robin Veder, Ph.D.
Robin Veder is a historian of nineteenth-century and twentieth-century transatlantic art history, visual culture, history of the body, and landscape studies. She received her doctorate in American Studies from the College of William in Mary, and joined the Penn State Harrisburg faculty in 2004. She has conducted collections research and/or curated exhibitions for the Palmer Museum of Art, the National Park Service’s Historic American Landscape Survey, the Smithsonian Institution’s Horticulture Services Division, Montpelier, the Stonewall Jackson House, and the Virginia Historical Society. Veder’s research fellowships include appointments at the Penn State Institute for Arts and Humanities, the Garden and Landscape Studies Program at Dumbarton Oaks, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center for American Modernism, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Smithsonian Horticulture Services Division, and the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library.
“Animating Landscapes: Kinesthetic Empathy in Early-Twentieth-Century Landscape Design and Reception” is the title of Veder’s current project. In the 1910s through the 1930s, American landscape writing and landscape architecture instruction were among the areas of artistic production that built upon theories of kinesthetic empathy. These theories –acquired from German experimental (and non-Freudian) physiological psychology – posit the aesthetic experience occurs when a viewer’s neuromuscular system “empathizes” with the physical form of a painting, building, urn, or landscape. The historical premises of kinesthetic empathy, its application in landscape design and reception, its coordination with body cultures of sport and dance, and the implications for social identities are the subject of this book-in-progress.
Veder’s book, The Living Line: Modern Art and the Economy of Energy (2015), is about connections among the histories of modern art, body cultures, and physiological aesthetics in early-twentieth-century American culture. In The Living Line, she argues that American modernism’s formalist approach to art was galvanized by theories of bodily response derived from experimental physiological psychology and facilitated by contemporary body cultures such as modern dance, rhythmic gymnastics, physical education, and physical therapy. Situating these complementary ideas and exercises in relation to enduring fears of neurasthenia, she contends that aesthetic modernism shared industrial modernity’s objective of efficiently managing neuromuscular energy.
Publications and Research
- The Living Line: Modern Art and the Economy of Energy. Interfaces: Studies in Visual Culture Series, Dartmouth/University Press of New England, forthcoming 2015. Download the Introduction.
- “Seeing the Skeleton and Feeling the Form: Physical Education at the 1913 Armory Show.” Visual Culture and Sport. Special Issue of Amodern 1: 2 (Fall 2014).
- “The Chrysanthemum is Ready for Her Close-Up.” Invited contribution to DO/Conversations Blog, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Harvard University. September 3, 2013.
- “Walking through Dumbarton Oaks: Early Twentieth-Century Bourgeois Bodily Techniques and Kinesthetic Experience of Landscape.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 72: 1 (March, 2013): 5 - 27.
- “Modern Motives: Arthur B. Davies, ‘Continuous Composition,’ and Efficient Aesthetics.” In Modern Movements: Arthur Bowen Davies Figurative Works on Paper from the Randolph College and Mac Cosgrove-Davies Collections, edited by Martha Johnson, 10 – 33. Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College, 2013.
- “The Joy of Breathing: Physical and Emotional Uplift in the Art of Arthur B. Davies.” In Gravity in Art: Essays on Weight and Weightlessness in Painting, Sculpture and Photography, edited by Mary Edwards and Elizabeth Bailey, 198 – 211. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, Inc., 2012.
- “Seeing Your Way to Health: The Visual Pedagogy of Bess Mensendieck’s Physical Culture System.” The Visual Turn in Sports History. Special issue of International Journal of the History of Sport 28: 8 (May 2011): 1336 - 1352.
- “The Expressive Efficiencies of American Delsarte and Mensendieck Body Cultures.” Modernism/Modernity 17: 4 (Nov. 2010): 819 - 838.
- “Flowers in the Slums: Weavers’ Floristry in the Age of Spitalfields ’ Decline.” Journal of Victorian Culture 14 (Autumn 2009): 261 - 281.
- “Arthur B. Davies’ Inhalation Theory of Art.” American Art 23 (Spring 2009): 56 - 77.
- “Pestalozzi and the PictureBook: Visual Pedagogy in The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins.” Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation 24 (Dec. 2008): 369 - 390.
- “The Gardener’s Exercise: Rational Recreation in Early-Nineteenth-Century Britain.” Sports, Exercise, and Recreation. Special issue of Proteus: A Journal of Ideas 25 (Oct. 2008): 53 - 59.
- “Mother-Love for Plant-Children: Sentimental Pastoralism and Nineteenth-Century Parlour Gardening.” Australasian Journal of American Studies 26 (Dec. 2007): 20 - 34.
- “Color Gardens before Color Photography.” Cabinet 2 (spring 2002): 72 - 75.
- “Yesterday’s Forecasts: An Interview with James Rodger Fleming.” Cabinet 1 (summer 2001): 68 - 70.
- “Working the Techno-Lawn.” Review of The American Lawn: Surface of Everyday Life, exhibition catalog by Georges Teyssot, editor, and exhibition by the Canadian Centre for Architecture. American Quarterly 52 (June 2000): 344 - 63.
- “Julia, Daughter of Stonewall.” Virginia Cavalcade 46 (summer 1996): 2 - 19.
- “Tableaux Vivants: Performing Art, Purchasing Status.” Theatre Annual: A Journal of Performance Studies 48 (1995): 14 – 29.
B.A.; M.A.; Ph.D. (William and Mary)
- +1 717 948 6330
- W356 Olmsted Building