Areas of Interest
Jennifer Tucker is a historian of modern Britain with a specialization in the history of science and technology and Victorian visual culture. Research interests include the history and theory of photography, early science film, feminist science and technology studies, and environmental law. She currently is Associate Professor of History at Wesleyan University where she is also a member of the faculty of the Science in Society Program, the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, and the College of the Environment. She also is a Senior Research Fellow at the Photographic History Research Centre, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. She received her BA in Human Biology (Neuropsychology of Vision, Perception, and Memory) from Stanford University, MPhil in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge (Marshall Scholarship, Gonville and Caius College), and Ph.D. in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology from Johns Hopkins University.
Her first book, Nature Exposed: Photography as Eyewitness in Victorian Science (Johns Hopkins University, 2006, released in paperback, 2013) explores the history of debates over photography and visual objectivity in Victorian science and popular culture from planetary astronomy and meteorology to bacteriology and spiritualism.
As a US-UK Fulbright Scholar in the History of Art at the University of York she conducted research for her second book-length project, nearly completed, titled “Identity after Photography: The Great Tichborne Trial in the Victorian Visual Imagination.” This study, nearing completion, excavates hundreds of photographs, engravings, and other visual materials that circulated around the time of the high-profile trial in order to show both the impact of new nineteenth-century media upon the conduct of legal proceedings and some of the factors that led to the trial’s emergence as a dominant subject of Victorian visual culture.
She currently is working on two new book-length projects. One, titled “Science Against Industry: Photographic Technologies and the Visual Politics of Pollution Reform,” traces the historical roots of the use of visual evidence in environmental science and pollution reform, focusing especially on visual representation in chemical climatology and the presentation of visual exhibits in Victorian courtroom debates over air and river pollution. The other, provisionally titled “Caught on Camera,” is a book-length study about the legal and cultural history of photographic detection and evasion, and is funded by a Public Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She began work on both of these projects as a Visiting Fellow at the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University, Canberra in spring 2015. In 2016, she will complete research on these projects in the UK as a visiting senior researcher at the Birkbeck Institute of Humanities in London.
She has published over fifteen articles and book chapters on subjects ranging from the historical relationship of law and image, visual history and the archive, photographic evidence in Victorian law, street photography, news pictures, the relationship between gender and genre in nineteenth-century European scientific and medical illustration, the significance of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in the history of photography, graphic methods, and science cinema from 1831 to 1940, and the significance of the railway station in the creation of photographic networks.
She was guest editor of a theme issue of History and Theory on “Photography and Historical Interpretation” (Dec. 2009). She also is the co-author, with Jennifer Mnookin, of a forthcoming Sourcebook on Photography and Law (Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2017).
With David Serlin and Simon Schaffer, she is co-editing a forthcoming issue of Radical History Review (forthcoming Winter 2017), “Radicalizing Histories of Science and Technology.”
She serves in a number of other editorial roles including editor of the “Image, Technology, History” feature of History and Technology journal, co-editor of a new book series on photography and history published by Bloomsbury Academic Press (London), and member of the Radical History Review editorial collective.
Her research and teaching have been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Clark Art Institute, National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian Institution, Social Science Research Council, National Science Foundation, and National Endowment for the Humanities, and Fulbright Foundation, among others. In 2009-2010, she was in residence as a Hixon-Riggs Visiting Professor of History and Science/Technology Studies at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California and in 2012-2013 she served as Interim Director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life.
Collaborative events she has helped organize include “Eye of History: The Camera as Witness” and “Science a Moving Image” (http://www.hmc.edu/academicsclinicresearch/interdisciplinarycenters/hixonforum1/forum.html) and the 2014 AALAC Symposium, “Visual Studies in the Liberal Arts.”
She has presented research in a variety of public and museum formats, including op-eds in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal (“The Mars Curiosity Rover and the Long Search for ET”),the Boston Globe (“Facial Recognition Goes Way Back,” and “What Our Most Famous Evolutionary Cartoon Gets Wrong“). She presented a radio essay about the visual culture of the Tichborne Trial for BBC Radio 3.