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Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw is the Class of 1940 Bicentennial Term Associate Professor in the Department of the History of Art at Penn and affiliated faculty in Latin American and Latino Studies, Cinema Studies, and Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies. She received her PhD in art history from Stanford University and then held an appointment as an assistant professor of History of Art and African and African American Studies at Harvard University for five years before coming to the University of Pennsylvania in 2005. She has been a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and the National Portrait Gallery; has received a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Ford Foundation; and spent a quarter as a distinguished visiting professor at the University of Washington. At Penn, she has served as a faculty fellow and as a faculty director in the College House system; and directed the undergraduate majors in History of Art and in Visual Studies. She has been honored with the School of Arts and Sciences Award for Innovation in Teaching and the Ira H. Abrams Memorial Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Research Interests

Professor Shaw studies race, gender, sexuality, and class in the art of the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Since coming to Penn, she has worked with students to organize exhibitions on contemporary and historical American art, Polynesian art, Brazilian art, and Cuban art.

Selected Publications

Professor Shaw’s first book, Seeing the Unspeakable: The Art of Kara Walker, was published by Duke University Press in the winter of 2004. In 2006-07, Shaw organized a museum exhibition and catalog, titled Portraits of a People: Picturing African Americans in the Nineteenth Century, with the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Massachusetts. In 2015, she helped mount "Represent: African American Art" in the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and in 2018 she curated "Kara Walker: Virginia's Lynch Mob and Other Works," for the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey. Recent publications include, “Andrew Wyeth’s Black Paintings,” in Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect, published by Yale University Press; “Family and Fortune in Early African American Life and Representation,” in the exhibition catalog, Artist and Visionary: William Matthew Prior Revealed, from the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York; and “Creating a New Negro Art in America,” in Transition 108, published by the W. E. B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research and University of Indiana Press.


Field of Study