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Karla McManus is an art historian and visual culture theorist who specializes in the study of photography and the environmental imaginary.

Karla’s research informs her teaching of the histories and theories of photography. Beginning in August 2017, she will be Limited Term Faculty member at Ryerson University’s School of Image Arts.

As a SSHRC Post-doctoral 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  research project is 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.”

Karla graduated in 2015 with her PhD from the Department of Art History at Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, where she has taught courses on the history and theory of photography and on the landscape and environment in art.

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.

Karla is a founding researcher with the research project, “Canadian Photography History/l’histoire de la photographie canadienne,” based at Concordia University’s Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for the Studies in Canadian Art.

During 2013-2014, she sat as the Student Representative to the Universities Art Association of Canada Board of Directors. She has previously been involved in student governance at both the departmental and university levels at Concordia and Carleton Universities.

Karla is a 2010 recipient of the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

In 2009, she 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.”

Karla graduated with a BFA Honours degree in Video and Installation Art from the University of Manitoba in 2004.

Current research and teaching interests include:

  • Canadian photography of indigenous and settler cultures
  • Environmentalism, conservation, and climate change in visual culture, especially photography
  • Questions of authorial expression and realism in documentary photography
  • Ecocriticism, Eco-media, and Animal Studies
  • Landscape and environmental/eco-art
  • the history and theory of photography
  • Social and political uses of art and photography

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