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Title: William Rimmer: Teaching Art
Authors: Partman, Lucy
Advisors: Delue, Rachael Z
Contributors: Art and Archaeology Department
Keywords: American
Subjects: Art history
American studies
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Rarely do we find an artist, physician, and educator all in the same person. Yet this describes William Rimmer (1816-1879). He doesn’t fit into common historical narratives and can’t be contained in a single discipline. Scholarship since his death has largely focused on and interprets his work through the lens of his enigmatic personality and family history. Yet accounts of Rimmer during his lifetime tell other, even more compelling stories. Newspapers were fascinated with the unique combination of science and imagination found in his art. Many were mesmerized by what and how he taught at places such as the Lowell Institute in Massachusetts and the Female School of Design at Cooper Union in New York. Aside from the artists who came from around the country, all types of people attended Rimmer’s classes and lectures on what he called “Art Anatomy.” The majority of his students were women, who were, like Rimmer, acknowledged for their work during the period, but have remained largely absent from our histories. Through Rimmer, we gain insight into nineteenth-century art, science, and education, and more specifically the professionalization of women artists, public lecturing, and performance culture, to cite just a few examples. Foregrounding his teaching, this project seeks to reveal Rimmer at the center of a complex and extensive network of individuals, institutions, and ideas. Rimmer is part of two “lineages” not often discussed in histories of nineteenth-century American art: that of artist-educators and artists for whom the body was central to their expression and their primary medium of meaning making and theory production. Looking closely at Rimmer allows us to reconsider and expand established stories of American art, education, and history. This dissertation proposes that Rimmer’s art and teaching were intimately intertwined. In both, Rimmer emphasized the importance of guiding and engaging the participant and leaving space for her own imagination, experiences, and questions. Looking closely at Rimmer’s approaches and philosophy can help us reimagine the role of art and educators.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology

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