Assistant Professor of Art History
Nadya Bair is a historian of photography, mass media, and global visual culture.
Her first book, The Decisive Network: Magnum Photos and the Postwar Image Market (University of California Press, 2020), received the 2021 PROSE Award in Media and Cultural Studies. Based in unprecedented archival research, the book reconstructs the daily operations of the international picture agency Magnum. Bair reframes photojournalism as a collaborative profession while showing how news images became integral to visual culture in the two decades after World War II. Her second book project, focused on New York’s International Center of Photography and its founder Cornell Capa, was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for 2023-2024. The book uncovers the volatile history of making, marketing, and historicizing documentary photography from the ’60s into the digital era.
Bair teaches a range of interdisciplinary courses on photography, media studies, and modern visual culture, bridging foundational methods of visual analysis with social history and new issues raised by today’s digital environment.
Recent Courses Taught
Photography Changes Everything
Ways of Seeing: Vision, Technology, Media
Visual Culture of Modernity
Visual Culture of World War II
Documentary Photography and Digital Media
Mass Media and the Jewish Experience
Digital Approaches to Print Media
- National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2023-24
- Special Collections Faculty Fellowship, 2022
- Levitt Center Faculty Research and Innovation Grant, 2021
- Hamilton College Humanities Center Interdisciplinary Collaboration Grant, 2021-22
- Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowship in the History of Art, 2018-19
- Postdoctoral Associate, Yale University Digital Humanities Lab, 2017-18
- Kenneth J. Botto Research Fellowship, Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ, 2017
- Nadir Mohamed Postdoctoral Fellowship, Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto
- ACLS/Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2015-16
- “The International Origins of ‘Concerned Photography’: Cornell Capa in the United States, Japan, and Israel,” American Art (Summer 2022), 74-101.
- The Decisive Network: Magnum Photos and the Postwar Image Market (Oakland: University of California Press, 2020). Winner of the 2021 PROSE Award for best book in Media and Cultural Studies.
- “Photo Essays at LIFE,” in Katherine Bussard and Kristen Gresh, eds., LIFE Magazine and the Power of Photography (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020).
- “From Antifascism to Humanism: The Legacies of Robert Capa’s Spanish Civil War Photography” in Geoff Eley and Julia A. Thomas, eds., Visualizing Fascism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2020).
- “Their Daily Bread: American Sponsorship and Magnum Photos’ Global Network,” American Art – 30th Anniversary issue on American Art in a Global Context 31:2 (Summer 2017): 109-117.
- “The Decisive Network: Producing Henri Cartier-Bresson at Mid-Century,” History of Photography 40:2 (May 2016): 146-166.
- “Never Alone: Photo Editing and Collaboration” in Jason E. Hill and Vanessa R. Schwartz, eds. Getting the Picture: The History & Visual Culture of the News (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015).
Appointed to the Faculty2020
Ph.D., University of Southern California
M.A., University of Southern California
B.A., Barnard College