Kelly Midori McCormick
Thematic Research Area
Regional Research Area
PhD., University of California Los Angeles, 2019
M.A. Columbia University, 2012
HIST 201 History Through Photographs
How has photography changed the way that we understand and study past historical events? This course explores how historians might learn to “read” images and how photographic images change our relationship with the past. We’ll trace over 150 years of the history of photography as it shaped a range of fields and became a powerful tool for the sciences and medicine, colonial infrastructure, wartime propaganda, communicating the news, constructing individual and national identities, advertising, protest, environmental activism and feminist critique around the globe. This global history of photography includes the Euro-North American context to better understand the role that photographs have had in constructing racist colonial and national frameworks and will also amplify perspectives from photographers across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and South America. The course will combine lectures with active group discussions and activities, visual analysis of photographs, and in-depth engagement with online archives of historical photographs.
HIST 271 Japan and Global History
This class sees images and objects as the crystallization of large historical events. A survey of modern Japanese History, it uses individual objects and images to explore major themes of the nineteenth through twentieth centuries: imperialism, war, violence, and atrocity; cultural change and construction of hierarchies; racism; evolving norms of gender and sexuality; changing patterns of consumption and inequality; and destruction of the environment. Each of the course’s lectures focuses on a single image or “object”—from early photographs and postcards to tattoos and anime—to trace how images and objects play an important role in defining and creating the modern world. We will develop the skills necessary to read images and objects like texts and will be mining online digitized archives of historical materials to create arguments about how images are not merely a reflection of history, but construct history itself. History 271 will introduce you to the methods of historical inquiry, including primary-source analysis, library and research skills, and public history.
HIST 376 Modern Japanese History
What did it mean to be a “modern” citizen in a time when people across the globe were simultaneously building the idea of nations, empires, and citizenship as well as resisting these new conceptions? In this course we explore how the concept of “Japan” has been manufactured and asserted over time to understand what Japan has meant to different groups of people and how they have re-envisioned it through visual and material culture. We will dive into modes of resistance and control from a range of perspectives including: female anarchists, government agencies, artists, indigenous voices, the Korean diaspora, architecture, the mass media, activists and protestors. These divergent voices will help us understand the constructions of gender, nationalism, class, race, and empire in the 19th and 20th centuries. In our focus on visual historical evidence (photographs, films, paintings, advertisements, maps, propaganda, and more) this course encourages students to challenge notions of what types of materials make up history. In your analysis of these materials you will become a producer of historical interpretations, not merely a passive consumer of them.
Mondays 10:30-11:30, Wednesdays 1-pm-2pm, or by appointment
I am a historian of the material and visual culture of modern Japan. My work explores the ways Japan’s social, political and cultural transformations shape photographic culture and the mass press; state implementations of photography and uses of photography against the state; the gendering of photographic technology and industrial design; the values embedded into the materiality of images and objects; the politics of museum practices of collection and display; and the relationship between photography and protest of environmental degradation.
History of Visual and Material Culture
History of Photography
History of Technology
History of Gender and Sexuality
“Tokiwa Toyoko, the nude shooting session, and the gendered optics of Japanese postwar photography,” Japan Forum (2021)
“Ogawa Kazumasa and the Halftone Photograph: Japanese War Albums in Turn of the Twentieth Century Japan,” Trans-Asia Photography Review, Vol. 8, No. 1, Spring 2017.
“Why was Japanese WWII propaganda on display outside the Met?” The Washington Post. November 9, 2021.
Principal Investigator and Co-Director of the SSHRC IDG funded project, “Behind the Camera: Gender, Power, and Politics in the History of Japanese Photography.” Behind the Camera is an open-source website that creates new critical directions on the history of photography, feminist art history, and the history of modern Japan.