Austin Porter's classes explore American art, politics and culture. His primary research interest is American art and visual culture between the 1930s and 1950s. He also teaches courses on postwar contemporary art that examine the expanding international art scene. His other research and teaching interests include race and modernism, museums, and the history of photography. In the spring of 2019, Austin received the Junior Faculty Trustee Teaching Excellence Award. 

Prior to his career in academia, Austin worked in advertising and later as a designer in an art museum, where he assisted with the creation of exhibitions and publications. Before arriving at Kenyon, Austin held fellowships with the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., the American Council of Learned Societies and the Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation. He has taught classes on the history of art and photography at Boston University, the Rhode Island School of Design, the Art Institute of Boston and the Kansas City Art Institute. His current research examines the relationship between American artists and the U.S. government during World War II. 

Areas of Expertise

American Art and Visual Culture, Art and Government, Modern and Contemporary Art

Education

2013 — Doctor of Philosophy from Boston University

2007 — Master of Arts from University of Kansas

2002 — Bachelor of Fine Arts from Kansas State Univ

Courses Recently Taught

This course examines visual culture in the United States from the late nineteenth century to the present day. We will analyze a variety of cultural artifacts, including fine art, film, commercial design, advertising, and popular culture. Major topics considered include the relationship between high and low culture, the role of mass media in American society, and the persistence of folk traditions in everyday life. We will also address how museums and public monuments and memorials define national identity. Other major issues include the evolving representation of race, class, gender, and war. Finally, we will examine American visual culture in an international context. This course is cross-listed in the Department of Art History and counts as an intermediate course in the Art History major. This course paired with any art history course can count toward the fine arts diversification requirement.No prerequisite.

This course examines visual culture in the United States from the late nineteenth century to the present day. We will analyze a variety of cultural artifacts, including fine art, film, commercial design, advertising, and popular culture. Major topics considered include the relationship between high and low culture, the role of mass media in American society, and the persistence of folk traditions in everyday life. We will also address how museums and public monuments and memorials define national identity. Other major issues include the evolving representation of race, class, gender, and war. Finally, we will examine American visual culture in an international context. This course is cross-listed in the Department of Art History and counts as an intermediate course in the Art History major. No prerequisite.

This course will explore specific problems in American art and architecture. Topics include Modernism and the Great Depression, World War II and Abstract Expressionism and the relationship between art and politics. When possible, students will utilize regional museum collections. Assignments will include seminar reports, class discussion and a research paper. This counts as an advanced course for the Art History major. This course is the same as ARHS 378D. This course must be taken as ARHS 378D to count toward the fine arts requirement. Prerequisite: ARHS 111, 227D, AMST 109 or equivalent. Offered every other year.

This course will explore specific problems in American art and architecture. Topics include Modernism and the Great Depression, World War II and Abstract Expressionism and the relationship between art and politics. When possible, students will utilize regional museum collections. Assignments will include seminar reports, class discussion and a research paper. This counts as an advanced course for the Art History major. This course is the same as ARHS 378D. This course must be taken as ARHS 378D to count toward the fine arts requirement. Prerequisite: ARHS 111, 227D, AMST 109 or equivalent. Offered every other year.

This course will explore specific problems in American art and architecture. Topics include Modernism and the Great Depression, World War II and Abstract Expressionism and the relationship between art and politics. When possible, students will utilize regional museum collections. Assignments will include seminar reports, class discussion and a research paper. This counts as an advanced course for the Art History major. This course is the same as ARHS 378D. This course must be taken as ARHS 378D to count toward the fine arts requirement. Prerequisite: ARHS 111, 227D, AMST 109 or equivalent. Offered every other year.

The course will provide a setting for advanced guided student work in American studies. Students will work collaboratively to assist one another in the development of individual research projects that represent the synthesis of the six courses they have crafted for the major in American studies. The course is required of all American studies senior majors and concentrators. Permission of instructor required. No prerequisite. Offered every year.

This course surveys Western art and architecture from the Renaissance to the present. Framing the study of art history within a social context, this course will provide students with the tools for understanding style and interpreting meaning in individual works of art. Although this is a lecture format, discussion is encouraged. This counts toward the introductory course requirement for the major. No prerequisite. Offered every semester.

This course presents an overview of painting, sculpture and architecture from colonial times to 1900. It frames the development of American art and architecture within a broad sociohistorical context and addresses many of the issues pertinent to American studies. The following questions, among others, will be addressed in the course: Does American culture have a single, identifiable character? How have Americans reconciled their uneasy relationship with European culture? How have American political values, such as freedom, liberty and democracy, informed the cultural expression of the 18th and 19th centuries? This course is the same as AMST 227D. This course must be taken as ARHS 227D to count towards the fine arts requirement. This counts toward the intermediate course and modern art requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ARHS 111, AMST 109 or equivalent.

This course surveys the history of photography from the medium's invention in the 1830s to the present. Key issues will include way photography functions as documentary evidence, demonstrates technological innovation, and is used as a means for artistic creativity. The role of digital imagery, social media, and the internet will also be addressed. Through lectures, critical readings, class presentations and discussions, students will develop a comprehensive understanding of the history of the medium within specific historical and cultural contexts. Emphasis will be given to the social history of photography in an international context. This counts toward the intermediate course and modern/American art requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ARHS 111 or equivalent.

Beginning with abstract expressionism, this course critically addresses the development of high modernism in New York after World War II, analyze its nearly hegemonic position in cultural expression in the 1950s, and trace the resistance to this artistic ideology with the emergence of pop art and other artistic movements, such as minimalism, conceptual art and feminist art. This counts toward the intermediate course and modern art requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ARHS 110, 111 or equivalent.

Beginning with Postmodernism, this course examines the primary themes of the expanding contemporary art scene since the late 20th century. Issues and movements addressed include installation art, neo-Expressionism, graffiti art, conceptual art and theory, performance and video art, the AIDS crisis and identity politics, and the globalized art market. The relationship between art and social issues is emphasized. As we will address a fairly short period of time, this course will combine a chronological and thematic approach. This counts toward the intermediate course and modern art requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ARHS 111 or equivalent.\n

This seminar serves as an introduction to the field of museum studies. Consisting primarily of readings, discussions, assigned papers and special projects, the course will historicize the role of the museum, analyze the nature of the museum audience and study the representation and display of different cultures. This counts toward the advanced course requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ARHS 111 or equivalent and sophomore standing.

This course explores specific problems in American art and architecture. Topics include Modernism and the Great Depression, World War II and Abstract Expressionism and the relationship between art and politics broadly speaking. When possible, students will utilize regional museum collections. Assignments will include seminar reports, class discussion and a research paper. This course is the same as ARHS 378D. This counts toward the advance course requirement for the major and must be taken as ARHS 378D to count towards the fine arts requirement. This course can be repeated up to tow times for credit, so long as they cover different topics. Prerequisite: ARHS 111, 227D, AMST 109 or equivalent.

This course explores specific problems in American art and architecture. Topics include Modernism and the Great Depression, World War II and Abstract Expressionism and the relationship between art and politics broadly speaking. When possible, students will utilize regional museum collections. Assignments will include seminar reports, class discussion and a research paper. This course is the same as ARHS 378D. This counts toward the advance course requirement for the major and must be taken as ARHS 378D to count towards the fine arts requirement. This course can be repeated up to tow times for credit, so long as they cover different topics. Prerequisite: ARHS 111, 227D, AMST 109 or equivalent.

This course explores specific problems in American art and architecture. Topics include Modernism and the Great Depression, World War II and Abstract Expressionism and the relationship between art and politics broadly speaking. When possible, students will utilize regional museum collections. Assignments will include seminar reports, class discussion and a research paper. This course is the same as ARHS 378D. This counts toward the advance course requirement for the major and must be taken as ARHS 378D to count towards the fine arts requirement. This course can be repeated up to tow times for credit, so long as they cover different topics. Prerequisite: ARHS 111, 227D, AMST 109 or equivalent.

Required of all senior majors and recommended for senior minors, this course will serve as a capstone to the study of art history. Students will study the foundations of the discipline, explore the variety of methodological approaches employed by art historians, and assess current theoretical issues in the field. Prerequisite: senior standing. Offered every fall semester.