Eric Garberson

Associate Professor

Graduate Program Director

Department of Art History

Eric Garberson’s research examines the formation of art and architectural history as academic disciplines in the early nineteenth century, primarily in Germany with a focus on Berlin. It analyzes how institutional structures and intellectual frameworks worked together to define what these disciplines studied and the theories and methods they employed. His current book project explores these questions through an in-depth investigation of one of the very first art history survey texts, published in 1842, and its author, Franz Kugler (1808-1858). A primary goal of this project is to provide a better understanding of how the values and concerns of a few privileged individuals 200 years ago still inform what art historians do today. The idea that moving forward requires a strong understanding of the past also guides Garberson’s teaching. His courses include the introductory historiography and methodology seminar for graduate students, history of photography, modern architecture, portraiture, and the nude. Informed by his interest in historiography as well as feminist, queer, and other theoretical models, these courses strive to present an inclusive view of the past and to provide students with a strong historical and conceptual foundation for their own engagement with it. At VCU he especially values the opportunity to work with MA students on MA Qualifying Papers that engage his eclectic intellectual interests. Past topics range from the work of queer artists in the late ninteenth and early twentieth centuries to photography to more traditional art historical investigations of individual works and artists. Garberson earned a Ph.D and MA in the history of art from the Johns Hopkins University and a BA in art history from Pomona College.