Wesleyan portrait of Jennifer  Tucker

Jennifer Tucker

Associate Professor of History

Allbritton Center, 221

Tutor, College of Social Studies

Associate Professor, Environmental Studies

Allbritton Center, 221

Associate Professor, Science in Society

Allbritton Center, 221

Associate Professor, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Allbritton Center, 221


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BA Stanford University
MPHIL Cambridge University
PHD Johns Hopkins University

Jennifer Tucker

Areas of Interest

The varied visual worlds of photographic & cinematic evidence in the fields of science, law, forensic medicine, news reporting, public trials, and the environment throughout history comprise the work of visual historian Jennifer Tucker.

Jennifer Tucker's professional website: https://jennifergtucker.com/

As an historian of 19th- and early 20th-century British society, Tucker’s research interests have ranged from the role of photography in scientific discovery and exploration to photos as tools of law for evidence (mugshots, crime scenes and surveillance) and how cameras in the courtroom have transformed the system. Recently, her work has included a project, “Dangerous Exposures: Photography, Waste and the Chemical Revolution in Victorian Britain”, that traces the historical roots of the use of visual evidence in environmental science and pollution reform, and explores the visual representation in chemical climatology and the presentation of visual exhibits in Victorian courtroom debates over air and river pollution.  The author of over 30 articles and book chapters, editor of 3 theme issue journals, and co-editor of a book series and currently co-chair of the Radical History Review journal's editorial collective, she recently completed the book manuscript for a book about Victorian imposture and photography and is currently completing a new book-length study about the history of facial recognition photography. She talked to David Serlin about museums & public history during Covid-19 in "Guns, Germs, & Public History," in the Journal of the History of Behavioral Sciences. Recently she organized a roundtable discussion by five historians on the collected essays and historical analysis in Ambivalent: Photography and Visibility in African History in The American Historical Review (Dec. 2021).

Tucker’s first book Nature Exposed: Photography as Eyewitness in Victorian Science explored the debates about photography and visual objectivity in Victorian science and popular culture from astronomy and meteorology to bacteriology and spiritualism. As a Senior Fulbright Scholar in the UK she completed the research on her second book-length project "Facing Facts: Photography, Popular Culture, and Facial Recognition Identity in Victorian Law." This study of Victorian identity and imposture in the new age of photography uses hundreds of photographs, engravings, and other visual materials associated with the high-profile trial to show how photographs and their circulation and commentary upon them shaped the meaning of legal decision making - and how caricatures,  news illustrations and other artistic responses to the Tichborne Claimant trial contributed to its becoming a landmark case in Victorian society and law.  Her latest project is about chemical waste and photography in late Victorian society and an essay on this topic appeared in "Labor Laid Waste," for a special issue of Labor and Working Class History. With Jennifer Mnookin, she is producing a Photography and Law Reader, 1839-Present (Bloomsbury, forthcoming) spanning landmark legal cases where photography and law have tangled in UK and US courts, from debates over moral content and obscenity to surveillance to intellectual property to evidence in the courtroom and photographers' rights to take pictures.

A frequent contributor to newspapers, journals, and radio (e.g. Connecticut Public Radio, iHeartRadio, and BBC Radio 3 ) Tucker is a recognized expert in photography and law, technologies of vision in Victorian art and science, ballooning and spirit photography, 19th-century environmental history, and guns in American culture. Her writings have appeared in major newspapers and magazines including the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington PostTime, CNN, The Boston Globe, The Conversation, Inside Sources, Smithsonian Magazine, Artnet, and more.

Her recent research has brought her to the study of the history, politics, legal history, and visual culture of firearms. The editor of a book on history and British and American gun laws, A Right to Bear Arms? The Contested Role of History in Today's Second Amendment Debate (Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2019), she currently talks with museum curators of firearms collections about narrating guns in history. A 2018 roundtable based on her discussions with technology and art museum curators was published in “Display of Arms: A round-table discussion with curators of firearms in historical museums,” in Technology and Culture. Recent talks focus on the long entangled history of photography, cameras and gun violence including, upcoming in summer 2019, "Arming Society with Cameras: The Interlocked Histories of Camera and Gun Manufacture."

Co-editor of a Radical History Review journal theme issue on “Political Histories of Technoscience” and the forthcoming RHR special issue, "Visual Archives of Sex," Tucker served as editor of a special theme issue of History and Theory on “Photography and Historical Interpretation.” She also has served as Image Editor at the journal History and Technology and currently serves as co-book series editor of the "Photography/History;History/Photography" book series published by Bloomsbury Academic Press.

Jennifer Tucker has been a visiting professor at California Institute of Technology and a visiting scholar at the University of York, Australian National University, Clark Art Institute, Yale Center for British Art, the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, Durham University, Birkbeck College, University of London & the University of Trento (Italy). Her research has been funded by a Public Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Social Science Research Counsel, the National Science Foundation, and the Fulbright Scholar Program.


Associate Professor of History, Wesleyan University

  • Core faculty member of the Science in Society Program
  • Core faculty member of the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program (Chair: 2018–19; Spring 2021).
  • Affiliated member of College of the Environment
  • Tutor, College of Social Studies.
  • Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowship in the Humanities, California Institute of Technology, 1996–1998.



B.A. Human Biology/History & Philosophy of Science, Stanford University, 1988

M. Phil, History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, 1990

PhD, History of Science, Medicine and Technology, Johns Hopkins University, 1997



  • Seidel Fellowship, Science History Institute, Philadelphia, PA, Feb. 2020.
  • Visiting Research Fellowship, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Jan. 2020.
  • NEH Public Scholar Award,
  • British Academy-Huntington Library Fellowship, Summer 2011.
  • Curran Fellowship for Study of the Victorian Press, Summer 2011.
  • National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Stipend,
  • Social Science Research Counsel/ACLS Dissertation Award, 1993­–94.
  • British Marshall Scholarship, University of Cambridge, 1988-90.



  • Senior Visiting Faculty Fellow, Humanities Research Centre (Theme: “Global Languages”), Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, May–July 2015.
  • Visiting Senior Fellow, The Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, University College London, Spring 2016.
  • Senior Fulbright Scholar, History of Art Department, University of York, England, January­–July 2014.
  • Senior Research Fellow (External), Photographic History Research Centre, De Montfort University, Leicester, England, 2014­­–17.
  • Hixon-Riggs Senior Visiting Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, 2009­–10.
  • Faculty Fellow, The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Fall 2005.




Edited Journals/Special Issues


  • Roundtable Discussion: Photography and Visibility in African History, American Historical Review (December 2021.) [Free access]
  • Editors' Introduction, "Visual Histories of Sex: Collecting, Curating, Archiving," co-authored with Heike Bauer, Melina Pappademos, & Katie Sutton, in "Visual Archives of Sex," Radical History Review 142 (2022): 1-18.
  • “Guns, Germs, and Public History: A Conversation with Jennifer Tucker,” Interview by David Serlin, in Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 57 (1) Special Issue: Going Public: Mobilizing, Materializing, and Contesting Social Science History, Alexandra Rutherford (Winter 2021). [Published online on July 7, 2020]
  • Dangerous Exposures: Work and Waste in the Victorian Chemical Trade,” International Labor and Working-Class History 95 (July 2019): 130-165.
  • “Photography/Science/Wonder,” Focal Plane: A Journal for Photographic Educators and Students 8 (Spring 2019): 18-23.
  • Display of Arms: A Roundtable Discussion about the Public Exhibition of Firearms and Their History,” Technology and Culture, Vol. 59, Issue 3 (July 2018): 719-769.
  • One Night in 2012” (2016), Nationalities Papers, Vol. 46, Issue 2 (January 2018).
  • “Editors’ Introduction,” Radical History Review 127: “Political Histories of Technoscience” (Winter 2017): 1-12, with Simon Schaffer & David Serlin.
  • “‘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, 25-3 (2016): 190-215.
  • “Science Institutions in Modern British Visual Culture: The British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1831-1931,” Historia Scientiarum: International Journal of the History of Science Society of Japan, Vol. 23, no. 3 (2014): 191-213.
  • “Close Ties: The Railway Station and Photographic Networks,” Photoworks: Photography, Art, Visual Culture 21: Collaboration (2014): 168-173.
  • “Marvels to Spectacles: Photographic Exploration and ‘The First Glimpse’,” Aperture 21: Curiosity (Summer 2013).
  • “Eye on the Street: Photography in Urban Public Spaces,” Radical History Review 114: Walkers, Voyeurs and the Politics of Urban Space (Fall 2012): 7-18.
  • “The Hidden World of Science: Nature as Art in 1930’s American Print Advertising,” Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science 6:1 (Fall 2012): 90-105.
  • “‘Let the Microscope Tell Your Story’: Philip Gravelle and the Neglected Industrial and Advertising Contexts of Ultra-Microphotography, 1920-1940,” PhotoResearcher 17 (Spring 2012): 19-32.
  • “Visualizing Darwinian Revolution: Review Forum,” Victorian Studies 52:3, (Spring 2010): 441-448.
  • “Entwined Practices: Engagements with Photography in Historical Inquiry,” co-authored with Tina Campt, History and Theory 48 (December 2009): 1-12.
  • “Objectivity, Collective Sight, and Scientific Personae,” Victorian Studies 50: 4 (2008): pp. 648-657.
  • “The Historian, the Picture and the Archive,” Isis 97 (March 2006): 111-120.
  • “‘Voyages of Discovery on Oceans of Air’: The Image of Science in an Age of ‘Balloonacy,’” Osiris 11: Science in the Field (1996): 144-176.

 Book Chapters

  • “Home on the (Firing) Range: Hollywood, Gun Culture and the ‘Old West’ Reenactment in Cowboy Shooting,” in Reenactment Case Studies: Global Perspectives on Experiential History, eds. Vanessa Agnew, Juliane Tomann, and Sabine Stach (New York: Routledge, in press).
  • “Foreword,” Hybrid Photography: Intermedial Practices in Sciences and Humanities, ed. Sara Hillnhütter, Stefanie Klamm, Friedrich Tietjen (New York: Routledge, 2021).
  • “Magical Attractions” Lantern Slide Lectures at British Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meetings, ca. 1850-1920,” in The Magic Lantern at Work: Connecting, Witnessing, Experiencing and Persuading, Martyn Jolly and Elisa de Courcy (New York: Routledge Studies in Cultural History, 2020), pp. 67-87.
  • Making Looking: Lantern Slides in British Science,1850-1920,” in Sarah Dellmann and Frank Kessler (eds.), A Million Pictures: Magic Lantern Slides in the History of Learning (Utrecht: John Libbey Press, 2020).
  • “Introduction,” A Right to Bear Arms? The Contested Role of History in Contemporary Debates on the Second Amendment, co-ed. with Bart Hacker and Margaret Vining (Washington, D.C: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, with Penguin Books and Barnes and Noble, 2019).
  • “A View of the Ocean, Between the Tropics (1765-1800),” in Martina Droth and Nathan Flis, eds, Britain in the World: Highlights from the Yale Center for British Art (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019), pp. 64-67.
  • “Photography in the Making of Modern Science,” Handbook of Photography Studies, ed. Gil Pasternak (London: Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2019), pp. 235-254.
  • “Visual Ecologies,” in Marvin Heiferman, ed. Seeing Science: Photography, Science and Visual Culture (New York: Aperture, 2019).
  • “Popularizing the Cosmos: Pedagogies of Science and Society in Anton Pannekoek’s Life and Work,” Ch. 9 in Chaokang Tai, Bart van der Steen, and Jeroen van Dongen (eds), Anton Pannekoek (1873-1960): Ways of Viewing Science and Society (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2019), 175-197. Available here via Open Access.
  • “Visual and Material Studies,” in Sasha Handley, Rohan McWilliam, and Lucy Noakes, (eds.) New Directions in Social and Cultural History (London: Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2018), pp. 129-42.
  • “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 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), pp. 22-44.
  • “‘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 (London: Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2015), pp. 215-220.
  • “Foreword,” Ashgate Research Companion on Victorian Spiritualism and the Occult, Tatiana Kontou and Sarah Wilburn (Aldershot: Ashgate, Fall 2012): xiii-xv.
  • “The ‘Social Photographic Eye,’” in Brought to Light: Photography of the Invisible, ed. Corey Keller (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008).
  • “Gender and Genre in Scientific Photography, in Ann Shteir and Bernard Lightman, eds, Figuring It Out: Visual Languages of Gender in Science (University of New England Press, 2006), pp. 140-163.

Works (Articles & Book Chapters) in Progress

  • “‘Over London at Night’: Gasworks, Ballooning and Seeing the Thames," British Art Studies: "Thames River Works: Art, Industry, and Environment"(forthcoming March 2022)
  • “Objectivity,” in The Art Institute of Chicago Field Guide to Photography and Media, ed. Antawan Byrd and Elizabeth Siegel (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, in press.)
  • "The Queen's Mark," Victorian Review 48:1, upcoming Forum on “Victorian Photographs” (Spring 2022).

Recent Book and Film Reviews

  • Engines of Truth: Producing Veracity in the Victorian Courtroom, by Wendie Ellen Schneider, reviewed for Journal of British Studies (October 2017): 925-27.
  • Meeting Places: Scientific Congresses and Urban Identity in Victorian Britain by Louise Miskell (Ashgate, 2013), for Victorian Studies (Spring 2016).
  • Family Secrets: Shame and Privacy in Modern Britain, by Deborah Cohen (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2013), for History: Reviews of New Books, vol. 44, no. 1 (January 2016): 19-20.
  • The Sympathetic Medium: Feminine Channeling, The Occult, and Communication Technologies, 1859-1919, by Jill Galvan, for Technology and Culture 53 (January 2012): 213-
  • The Civil Contract of Photography (MIT Press, 2008), by Ariella Azoulay, American Historical Review 116, no. 1(February 2011): 141-142.


Monograph Series Co-editor

Academic Journals Co-editor

  • Editorial Board Member, Radical History Review, 2011–present; Co-Chair, 2017–21.
  • Editorial Board Member, Journal of the Material and Visual History of Science (https://brill.com/view/journals/nun/nun-overview.xml) (2021­­–present)
  • History and Technology’s quarterly “Image” feature (quarterly 2,000-word peer-reviewed essays on visual history of technology), 2011–19 (Co-editor, with Smithsonian NASM curator Martin Collins, 2017–19.)






  • Advisory Committee Member, Pacific Standard Time: Art x Science x LA initiative, a series of exhibitions and public programs scheduled to open in 2024 on the topic of The Future in Our Past: Visualizing Human Evolution, 1850 to the Present. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Getty, and Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.
  • Advisory Board Historical Consultant, Catalyst Chemistry Museum, England, 2019–present.
  • Advisor, Museum of Boulder (Colorado), "The Roots of Our Violence: Confronting an Enduring Legacy in the West," planning phase.
  • Exhibition script reader for 2019 Cody Firearms Museum renovation, Buffalo Bill Center of the American West, Cody, Wyoming, Spring 2019.
  • Advisor to Up in Arms, a multi-media group show presenting a number of perspectives on the image and impact of guns in contemporary culture at the Cecile and Ezra Zilkha Gallery of Contemporary Art, curated by Prof. Susanne Slavick (Carnegie Mellon University), October, 2017.
  • Advisor to “Framing and Being Framed: The Uses of Documentary Photography,” Zilkha Gallery, Wesleyan University, Fall 2008.
  • Advisor to The Photograph and the Book exhibit, Olin Library, Wesleyan University, Fall 2008.

Academic Affiliations

Office Hours

Spring 2022/by appt.


Fall 2022
HIST 231 - 01
Guns & Society