headshot of John Tagg

John Tagg

SUNY Distinguished Professor, Bartle Professor

Art History


John Tagg looks at forms of photographic practice that were not previously part of the History of Photography and writes about photography not as a self-contained medium but as a complex apparatus whose social effects and effects of meaning are multiple and diverse. His interests extend to the ways in which we construct histories of cultural technologies and visual regimes and to the range of theoretical debates that, since the 1970s, have transformed the business of art history.

Born in the North-East of England, Tagg now lives and works in Upstate New York. His publications, which have been translated into more than fifteen languages, include The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographies and Histories (1988), Grounds of Dispute: Art History, Cultural Politics, and the Discursive Field (1992) and The Disciplinary Frame: Photographic Truths and the Capture of Meaning (2009).

Research Interests

  • History and theory of photography
  • Cultural politics and critical theory
  • History of art history

Teaching Interests

  • Histories of photographies
  • Twentieth-century American art and cultural politics
  • Critical theory and cultural studies
  • History of art history


  • 1976, 1977 Arts Council of Great Britain, Fellowship in Photographic History
  • 1990 Lansdowne Scholar, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  • 1990 - 1991 Ailsa Mellon Bruce Senior Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
  • 1994 Benenson Lecturer, Duke University
  • 1996 – 1997 Fellow of the Society for the Humanities, Cornell University
  • 2002 Binghamton University Award for Excellence in Teaching
  • 2002 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, State University of New York
  • 2005 Clark Fellow, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts
  • 2007 – 2008 J. Clawson Mills Art History Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York
  • 2011 University of Arizona School of Art Visiting Scholar
  • 2012 Distinguished Visiting Lecturer, University of Toronto, Jackman Humanities Institute
  • 2016 Andrew Carnduff Ritchie Scholar, The Yale Center for British Art, Yale University

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