Wesleyan portrait of Jennifer  Tucker

Jennifer Tucker

Associate Professor of History

Public Affairs Center, History

Chair, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Public Affairs Center, History

Associate Professor, Environmental Studies

Public Affairs Center, History

Associate Professor, Science in Society

Public Affairs Center, History

Associate Professor, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Public Affairs Center, History


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BA Stanford University
MPHIL Cambridge University
PHD Johns Hopkins University

Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Tucker received her BA with Honors in Human Biology (Neuropsychology of Vision, Perception, and Memory) from Stanford University, MPhil in the Dept. of the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge (Marshall Scholarship), and Ph.D. in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology from Johns Hopkins University. A historian of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British society, she specializes in the history of technology, science, art, visual and material culture; law and visual persuasion; Victorian and Edwardian history; visual studies; evidence; history and theory of photography; facial recognition and surveillance, environmental history; and, recently, firearms, material culture, and public history. Her faculty website is: here.  Mailing address:  c/0 History Department, Public Affairs Center, 238 Church Street, Middletown, CT 06459.  Office address: Allbritton 221. (Link to research publications & courses by clicking on "Read More," below).

Tucker's first book, Nature Exposed: Photography as Eyewitness in Victorian Science (pbk, 2013) explores the history of debates over photography and visual objectivity in Victorian science and popular culture from planetary astronomy and meteorology to bacteriology and spiritualism.

She has published over thirty articles and book chapters on topics including British and transatlantic science, photography and law, technologies of vision in Victorian art and science, and nineteenth-century environmental history. She recently finished a book-length manuscript about the role of photography and the invention of Victorian legal and cultural concepts of false identity.

She currently is working on two new book-length projects. One, titled “Science Against Industry: Photographic Technologies and the Visual Politics of Pollution Reform,” which explores the visual representation in chemical climatology and the presentation of visual exhibits in Victorian courtroom debates over air and river pollution, is based on archival research in Liverpool and surroundings. The other, “Caught on Camera," is a book-length study about the legal and cultural history of photographic detection and evasion, and is funded by a Public Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

Tucker currently serves as editor of the “Image, Technology, History” feature of History and Technology journal, as co-editor of the "Photography and History" monograph series published by Bloomsbury Academic Press, and currently serves as a member and co-chair of the Radical History Review journal editorial collective. She is co-editor of a new collection of essays (forthcoming) titled "Firearms and the Law: History and Memory," and is the organizer/moderator of "Up in Arms": A round-table discussion among curators of UK and US firearms collections," forthcoming in Technology and Culture, in July 2018). With Simon Schaffer and David Serlin she co-edited Radical History Review 127: “Political Histories of Technoscience,"(Winter 2017) and was guest editor of the theme issue of History and Theory journal on “Photography and Historical Interpretation” (2009). Upcoming talks include a lecture at "Photography and the Black Boxes of History" at the Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto; and a public lecture about the role of museums in today's Second Amendment debate at the Buffalo Bill Center's symposium, "Arsenals of History," in Cody, Wyoming.

She has presented research in a variety of public,museum, and online formats on topics ranging from photography and law to Mars research, facial recognition technology, gun laws, and health and medicine. She has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal (“The Mars Curiosity Rover and the Long Search for ET”), the Boston Globe (“Facial Recognition Goes Way Back,” "What the Clean Air Act Can Teach Us About Reducing Gun Violence" (with public health scholar, Matthew Miller), and “What Our Most Famous Evolutionary Cartoon Gets Wrong“), Inside Sources ("The Not So Wild West"), and Vice, among others. She has also appeared as a guest on WNPR's "Where We Live" and the Colin McEnroe Show, "Changing the Gun Conversation)," BBC Radio 3 ("Five Photos"), and BBC2 television science documentary series, “Dangerous Earth” (2016).

Her articles and essays include: "Eye on the Street" in Radical History Review; “Photographic Migrations: The Tichborne Claimant, Popular Archives, and the “Evidence of Camera Pictures,” in Kelley Wilder and Gregg Mitman, eds. Documenting the World: Film, Photography and the Scientific Record (2016); "Voyages of Discovery on Oceans of Air," about a 19th century collaboration between a scientist and a balloonist; “Close Ties: The Railway Station and Photographic Networks,” Photoworks (2014)“’Famished for News Pictures: Mason Jackson, 'The Illustrated London News,' and the Pictorial Spirit,” in Jason E. Hill and Vanessa R. Schwartz, eds. Getting the Picture: The History & Visual Culture of the News (2015); “Science Institutions in Modern British Visual Culture: The British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1831-1931” (2016); “’To Obtain More General Attention for the Objects of Science: The Depiction of Popular Science in Victorian Illustrated News,” Historia Scientiarum: International Journal of the History of Science Society of Japan (2016); “Visual and Material Culture” for Rohan McWilliam et al, eds. New Directions in Social and Cultural History (2018); and “Scientific Photography after 1850” for Gil Pasternak, ed. Handbook of Photographic Studies (forthcoming). She is also currently researching the British documentary filmmaker, Humphrey Jennings’s Pandaemonium project (1938-1950) and his contribution to visual and technological history and has presented this work at Birkbeck College, the Paul Mellon Centre in London and the Institute of Visual Studies in Lucca.

Tucker’s research has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Birkbeck College London, The Clark Art Institute, The British Marshall Foundation, National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian Institution, Social Science Research Council, National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fulbright Foundation, and the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National Unviersity in Canberra, AU. In 2009-2010, she was in residence as a Hixon-Riggs Visiting Professor of History and Science/Technology Studies at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California.

Programmatic events include “Eye of History: The Camera as Witness”, “Science a Moving Image" at Harvey Mudd College, the 2014 AALAC Symposium, “Visual Studies in the Liberal Arts,” the 2016 “Firearms and the Common Law Tradition: History and Memory” symposium at the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C., and the Shasha Seminar for Human Concern at Wesleyan University on the topic of “Guns in American Society" (2017).



Academic Affiliations

Office Hours

Spring 2017:  Wednesdays 1:15-2:30, Allbritton 221


Spring 2018
HIST 286 - 01
Photography and Law

Fall 2018
FGSS 405 - 01
Senior Seminar

HIST 362 - 01
Issues Contemp Historiography