University of Rochester

Scholar in Visual and Cultural Studies Appointed to Professorship

January 28, 2003

Douglas Crimp, professor and writer who studies and interprets contemporary art and the cultural representations of AIDS, has been appointed the Fanny Knapp Allen Professor of Art History at the University of Rochester.

Crimp is well known as a theoretician of postmodernism in the visual arts and for his writings on art practices and institutions. In 1988, he was awarded the Frank Jewett Mather Award for distinction in art criticism by the College Art Association. But with the devastation brought to the gay community by HIV/AIDS, his work since the late 1980s also has concentrated on the politics of the disease and its cultural analysis.

His most recent book, Melancholia and Moralism: Essays on AIDS and Queer Politics (2002), attests to Crimp's role as a formidable critic of political inaction and conservatism on that topic. During a yearlong Rockefeller Foundation fellowship in 2000 at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, Crimp worked on the manuscript while participating in a series of interdisciplinary seminars on sexuality, gender, health, and human rights.

"His leadership and vision have helped to make our Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies one of the leading programs of its kind in the United States," said Thomas J. LeBlanc, Vice Provost and Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the College Faculty. "He is an acknowledged expert and has published widely on the representation of AIDS in art and the media. His groundbreaking work has raised the visibility of that issue in the context of visual and cultural studies."

Crimp began teaching on the faculty of the visual and cultural studies program and the Department of Art and Art History in 1992. Now professor of visual and cultural studies, Crimp has held several administrative posts and is currently acting co-director of the VCS program. As is true in his research and writing, courses taught by Crimp challenge divisions between theory and practice, art and popular culture, and academic scholarship and activist politics.

Besides Melancholia and Moralism, Crimp is the author of On the Museum's Ruins (1993). He also edited AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism (1988), which is considered the seminal work on AIDS and cultural representation as well as a founding text of queer theory, and co-edited How Do I Look? Queer Film and Video (1991).

Crimp earned his bachelor's degree in art history from Tulane University and his doctoral degree in art history from City University of New York.

The professorship he assumes is named for Fanny Knapp Allen, an amateur painter and supporter of artists in her lifetime. She donated funds for scholarships at the University, and the professorship was created in 1980 to recognize her.