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Christopher Reed

Christopher Reed

Distinguished Professor of English, Visual Culture, and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

114 Burrowes Building

Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building

University Park , PA 16802
Office Phone: (814) 865-4242

Office Hours:

  • FALL 2018: Tuesdays 4:30 - 5:30 and by appointment

Curriculum Vitae

Download CV


  1. Ph.D. 1991, M.A., 1985, Department of History of Art, Yale University.
  2. B.A. summa cum laude, 1984, Amherst College.
  3. Junior year at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, New York City, 1982-83.

Professional Bio

Christopher Reed holds a PhD in the History of Art. In the English Department, his courses focus on the relationship between literature and visual culture. Specific courses deal with the Bloomsbury group, with Japanist aesthetics, and with the emerging interdisciplinary field of Visual Studies. He also teaches courses for the Minor in Sexuality and Gender Studies.

Reed's interdisciplinary scholarship explores a wide range of topics in visual culture. He has published on topics as diverse as mass-produced paintings for interior decoration, street furniture designed to mark a gay neighborhood in Chicago, the relationship of BritishVogue to emerging forms of queer culture in the 1920s, the television show Will & Grace, and the idea of lesbian humor.

Reed’s first scholarly focus was on the Bloomsbury group. He has published on Roger Fry’s aesthetic theories of formalism, on their relationship to Viriginia Woolf’s textual experimentation, on Bloomsbury’s relationship to its Victorian forebears, and, most extensively, in his book Bloomsbury Rooms (Yale, 2004), on how the domestic spaces created by the Bloomsbury artists relate to the lives and work they contained.

With Nancy Green, Reed organized the exhibition A Room of Their Own: The Bloomsbury Artists in American Collections, which is accompanied by a catalog he co-edited (Cornell 2008). Reed’s other edited volumes include A Roger Fry Reader (Chicago, 1996) and Not at Home: The Suppression of Domesticity in Modern Art and Architecture (Thames and Hudson, 1996). Reed most recent publication in this field is drawn from his 2017 keynote address for the conference Alma-Tadema: Antiquity at Home and Screen, sponsored by the Paul Mellon Centre and Leighton House in London (see link above).

Another scholarly focus for Reed has been Western fantasies about Japan. Reed's publications on Japanism include a translation of a novella by the illustrator Félix Régamey as The Chrysanthème Papers: The Pink Notebook of Madame Chrysanthème and other Documents of French Japonisme (Hawai’i 2010). He also co-curated, with Jonathan Abel, the 2014 exhibition Forging Alliances, which used Penn State's collections of Japanese prints and ceramics to explore the art's role in diplomacy between Japan and the United States after World War II. He also co-edited, with Nancy Green, the 2017 catalog for the exhibition JapanAmerica: Points of Contact, 1876-1970, which explored Japan's presence at international exhibitions in the Americas. Reed's book Bachelor Japanists: Japanese Aesthetics and Western Masculinities was published in 2016 in the Modernist Latitudes Series of Columbia University Press.

Reed is also the author of Art and Homosexuality: A History of Ideas (Oxford 2011), a wide-ranging history of the relationship between ideas about sexual identity and the identity of the artist. He is also co-author, with Christopher Castiglia, of If Memory Serves: Gay Men, AIDS, and the Promise of the Queer Past (Minnesota 2012) and several other essays on aspects of queer culture. Their chapter “Not at Home Movies,” about Cyrus Pinkham’s home movies of the 1930s, appears in the anthology Amateur Movie Making, (Indiana 2017), which won the Best Edited Collection award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. Reed's anthology Queer Difficulty in Art and Poetry: Rethinking the Sexed Body in Verse and Visual Culture , co-edited with Jongwoo Jeremy Kim, was published by Routledge in 2017 (that's where the piece on lesbian humor is -- it's funny, not campy).

A fundamentally easy-going and open-minded person, Reed, in the current academic climate nationally, finds the need to post this statement of basic principles concerning his approach to topics related to sexuality and gender.

The problems we confront are exemplified in a post that objects to these principles in terms as vituperative as they are illogical. Although this post claims to want to combat recent government directives hostile to transpeople, it should be clear that one reason politicians find success in deploying caricatures of academics as ideologues who need institutional authorities to impose speech protocols and to punish anyone who departs from their orthodoxy is that occasionally those stereotypes are true. This post enables exactly the political forces it claims to object to, and precludes coalition by insisting on a form of transness that requires the suppression of ideas and sensibilities central to L, G, and Q histories and people.

On the scope and meaning of the concept of academic freedom, readers are referred to the American Association of University Professors’ report, “Freedom in the Classroom," which warns:

“The current application of the idea of a ‘hostile learning environment’ to the pedagogical context of higher education….assumes that students have a right not to have their most cherished beliefs challenged. This assumption contradicts the central purpose of higher education, which is to challenge students to think hard about their own perspectives, whatever those might be. It is neither harassment nor discriminatory treatment of a student to hold up to close criticism an idea or viewpoint the student has posited or advanced.”


Areas of Specialization

Contemporary Literature
Modernist Studies
Visual Culture

Art in modern literature and poetry, communities of artists and authors, modernist art and design, modern periodicals, the aesthetics of Japanism, queer aesthetics