My recent research concerns French Atlantic visual culture, coastal ecology, the rise of marine sciences in France and it encourages dialogues between 19th and 21st century aesthetics and ecological ethics. I work with first-hand experience of coastal landscapes, primary research in museums, archives and artist communities with a methodology informed by ecocriticism, new materialism and trans-corporeality. Across my projects is a shared fascination with the material flows of fish and animals, seaweed, salt, people, sand, stones, boats and other actors that move across and through the tide line, and the ways in which the visual culture of the shore visualizes intensely local perceptions of tide, geology, beach morphology, and marine botany.  I am Professor of Visual Studies in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at Bryant University in Smithfield RI (USA); I serve on the Executive Board of Directors of the Nineteenth-Century Studies Association, an interdisciplinary organization that has grown to be a major conference venue for historians of 19th-century art and visual culture.


Ph.D. 2001, History of Art, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Dissertation: “The Artistic Origins of the French Peasant-Painter. Jean-François Millet: Between Normandy and Barbizon.”  Committee members:  Linda Nochlin (chair), Robert L. Herbert, Robert Rosenblum.

M.A. 1994, History of Art, Tufts University
B.A. 1990, English and History of Art, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Other Publications

“Silver Salts: Realism and Materiality in a French photograph, c. 1900” forthcoming in Eds. Rasmus R. Simonsen and Geoff Bender, Photography’s Materialities: Provocation, Invention, Subversion across the Transatlantic Nineteenth Century.

“Reading the Wrack Line: Atlantic Flow on the Brittany Coast” forthcoming in (eds.) Kathleen Davidson and Molly Duggins, Sea Currents: Art, Science and the Commodification of the Ocean World in the Long Nineteenth Century (Bloomsbury).

“Death at Sea: Symbolism and Charles’s Cottet’s Subjective Realism” in Decadence, Degeneration and the End: Studies in the European Fin de Siècle, ed. Edited by Marja Härmänmaa and Christopher Nissen; Palgrave, December 2014.

“Sites of Absence and Presence: Tourism and the Morbid Material Culture of Death in Brittany.” Death Tourism: Disaster Sites as Recreational Landscape. Ed. Brigitte Sion. London: Seagull Books- Enactments, 2014.

“Place Myths of the Breton Landscape” Essay in exhibition catalogue Impressionist France. Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013. Eds. April Watson and Simon Kelly, St. Louis Museum of Art and the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, 2013.

Celtic Cultural Politics: Monuments and Mortality in Nineteenth-century Brittany” Mysticism, Myth and Celtic Identity. Eds. Marion Gibson, Shelley Trower, Garry Tregidga. (London: Routledge, 2012) 130-41.

“Crosses, Cloaks and Globes: Women’s Material Culture of Mourning on the Brittany Coast” in Women and Things: Gendered Material Practices, 1750-1950.  Edited by Maureen Daly Goggin and Beth Fowkes Tobin, Ashgate, 2009.

Roundtable on Teaching “Work” as an Interdisciplinary First-Year College Seminar.  Published by The University of Iowa in Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies Volume 1, Issues 12-13, pages 97-106.

“Barbizon Painters” in John Merriman and Jay Winter, eds., Encyclopedia of Europe: 1789-1914 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons) 2006.

“Millet’s Milkmaids” Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, 2/1, Winter 2003.


Co-editor (with Emily Gephart) and contributor to Ecocriticism and The Anthropocene in Nineteenth Century Art and Visual Culture to be published in 2019 in the series, Routledge Advances in Art and Visual Studies. Under contract with Routledge.

“Shifting Baselines, or reading art through fish.” Chapter to be included in  Ecocriticism and The Anthropocene in Nineteenth Century Art and Visual Culture as above.

“Coastal Visual Culture and Postcolonial Ecocriticism in Brittany” special issue of Nottingham French Studies, ed. Dr. Heather Williams Canolfan Uwchefrydiau Cymreig a Cheltiadd Prifysgol Cymru/ University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, for the December 2020 volume:  ‘New Dialogues: Breton Literature as World Literature.’

“Grief, Longing and Maritime Things” essay for a collection: Memory and Commemoration, edited by Amanda Mushal and Kathy Grenier.

“CONFLUENCE:  Painting Seawater Across the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic” co-authored with Emily Gephart in Ed. Karl Kusserow, Picture Ecology: Art and Ecocriticism in Planetary Perspective,”  Princeton University Art Museum and Yale University Press.  Forthcoming 2019.

Upcoming Talks and Conferences

The Last Fish: an Ecomaterialist Visual Culture of Ocean Commons, 1600-1900″ CAA Annual Conference Panel “Ecocritical Approaches to Colonial Art History (1600-1900).” February 13-16, 2019, New York.

Deep Sea Visual Culture in Fin-de-Siècle France”  NCSA Kansas City, March 2019. 




College Art Association (CAA), Nineteenth-Century Studies Association (NCSA), Association for the Study of Literature & the Environment (ASLE) , Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM), Peaked Hills Trust, Cape Museum of the Arts.

Maura Coughlin

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