Catherine M. Soussloff

Catherine M. Soussloff

Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture
UC Presidential Chair, 2006-2009
Director, Visual and Performance Studies Faculty Research Group (VPS)
Professor Soussloff will be on leave beginning January 2010
Professor Soussloff teaches history of art, visual studies and theory in the HAVC department. Some of her courses fulfill requirements in Italian Studies and Jewish Studies. She also teaches graduate courses and advises in the Departments of History, History of Consciousness, and Literature and in the Digital Art & New Media M.F.A. program.
Office: 831-459-4660
Research Interests: 

Trained in the area of 16th and 17th century Italian art, Professor Soussloff’s general research area is the historiography, theory, and philosophy of art in the European tradition from the Early Modern period to the present. She has published books and over forty essays and articles. She has been the recipient of grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Getty Research Institute, The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, the University of California Humanities Research Institute, t he College Art Association of America, and the New York Institute for the Humanities. She held the first Patricia and Rowland Rebele Chair in the History of Art and Visual Culture at UC Santa Cruz. Her recent publications have focused on: Viennese art and culture in the early 20th century, theories of painting from Leonardo da Vinci to contemporary post-structuralism,  performance theory and visual culture, the history of the discipline of art history, Jewish studies, and theories of the image.

Office Location: Cowell College, Room 203
Mailing address: Catherine M. Soussloff University of California 1156 High Street Cowell College 203 Santa Cruz, CA 95064
Selected Publications: 


Editing the Image: Strategies in the Reception of the Visual co-editos Mark Cheetham, Elizabeth Legge (University of Toronto Press, 2008).

The editing process is a vital part of virtually every form of media. Primarily associated with texts and written language, editing is equally essential, if less examined, in regard to visual media. Editing the Image looks at the editing of visual media as both a series of technical exercises and as an allegory. It touches on concerns that are crucial to the history of art and visual culture, as well as those media and institutions that produce and disseminate the visual arts in our society.
Featuring contributors from a wide range of disciplines, Editing the Image considers editing in the context of academic journals, art-historical texts, illustrated books, museum displays, and exhibitions. It is an inclusive analysis of visual forms commonly associated with the process of editing, photography, film, and video, as well as some media that are not intrinsically linked to editing, such as painting, sculpture, and architecture. In addition to wide-ranging academic considerations, this collection includes discussions of moving picture media and studio art by practitioners, giving the study a practical focus. For anyone who has considered the implications of the editorial process, this work will be of significant interest.

The Subject in Art: Portraiture and the Birth of the Modern (Duke University Press, 2006).

“Professor Soussloff has managed, in her philosophical and art historical reflections on the portrait in modernity, to bring important insights to our understanding of the relation between the individual and history. In focusing on the ‘subject’ in the individual as revealed and hidden in modern portraiture, Soussloff exposes many of the open secrets of modernist historical consciousness as well.” Hayden White, Presidential Professor of Historical Studies Emeritus, UCSC; Professor of Comparative Literature, Stanford University


The Absolute Artist: The Historiography of a Concept (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1997).

The myth of the artist-genius has long had a unique hold on the imagination of Western culture. Iconoclastic, tempermental, and free from constraints of society, these towering figures have been treated as fixed icons regardless of historical context or individual situation. In The Absolute Artist Soussloff challenges this view in an engaging consideration of the social construction of the artist from the fifteenth century to the present.


Jewish Identity in Modern Art History (Berkeley and London: University of California Press: 1999).

“The goal of this volume…is to introduce the subject of Jewish identity to art history and to explore its complexities…The contributions cover issues ranging from the concept of Jewish art, aniconism, and anti-Semitism to the importance of Jewish identity to numerous artists, collectors, and art historians. While there are recurring themes in this volume, Soussloff is as interested in outlining the great variety of materiel surrounding the notion of Jewish identity in art history and indicating its theoretical significance.” Mitchell Frank, CAA Online Reviews (Spring 2000).


Acting on the Past: Historical Performance Across the Disciplines, Ed. by Mark Franko and Annette Richards (Wesleyan: Wesleyan University Press, 1999).

The essays in this volume reveal that the interconnections between traditional disciplinary boundaries can be productive places from which to launch new and innovative critique. Many of the contributors to this volume, including Mark Franko (Theater Arts and Dance), Catherine Soussloff (Art History), Carolyn Dean (Art History), and Karen Bassi (Classics and Literature), are professors at UC Santa Cruz where they were Core Faculty in the planning for a new Ph.D. program in Visual and Performance Studies (VPS). This graduate program would have brought together innovative scholars from arts, cultural anthropology, and the humanities in advanced scholarly research and teaching according to an interdisciplinary and collaborative model.


“An extremely unusual collection, Acting on the Past establishes a dialogue between conventional and theoretical approaches to historical performance studies, on the one hand, and foregrounds the importance of early performance for an understanding of what has become known as the discipline of `performance studies… The book will become an influential source text in performance studies, both old and new.” Timothy Murray, Cornell University

Education and Training: 
A.B. and Ph.D. Bryn Mawr College
Languages: French, Italian, German, Spanish, Latin