KARLA MCMANUS is an art historian and photography theorist who specializes in the study of photography and the environmental imaginary. Her writing and research focuses on how historic and contemporary concerns, from wildlife conservation, to environmental disasters, to anxiety about the future, are visualized photographically.
Karla’s research informs her teaching of the histories and theories of photography and art. Beginning in August 2017, she is a Limited Term Assistant Professor at Ryerson University’s School of Image Arts, teaching in the Photography Studies, Film and Photography Preservation and Collections Management, and Documentary Media Programs.
As a Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at Queen’s University from 2015 to 2017, Karla researched the narratives of settler identity, colonialism, and environmental conservation in the work of early-twentieth century wildfowl photographer Lorene Squire, as seen in the Beaver magazine. Her project, entitled “A ‘Young Lady … Took to Hunting with a Camera’: Lorene Squire’s Northern Canadian Wildlife Photography in The Hudson’s Bay Company’s Magazine ‘The Beaver’, 1937-1942,” explores the relationships between settler conservation and wilderness ideology in North America during the inter-war period.
Karla received her PhD from Concordia University in 2015, supported by a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship. Her dissertation, “Eco-Photography: Picturing the Global Environmental Imaginary in Space and Time,” argues that photography has an important role to play in both co-creating and reflecting global concerns and anxieties about the state of the earth. She is currently working on the book manuscript of this project, which will be published by McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Karla is a founding researcher with the “Canadian Photography History/l’histoire de la photographie canadienne” research project, based at Concordia University’s Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for the Studies in Canadian Art.
Karla has been involved in governance at both the departmental and university levels at Concordia and Carleton Universities. From 2013-2014, she sat as the first Student Board Member to the Universities Art Association of Canada’s Board of Directors.
In 2009, Karla received her Master’s degree in Art History from Carleton University with a thesis entitled “Neutralized Landscapes and Critical Spaces: An Analysis of Contemporary Landscape Photography and Environmentalism in the Art Museum.” In 2004, she graduated with a BFA in Video and Installation Art from the University of Manitoba’s School of Art.