Jordan Bear

Associate Professor

On Leave

July 01, 2023 to June 30, 2024
Sidney Smith Hall, Room 6047, 100 St. George Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3G3


Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

  • 19th-century European art
  • History and theory of photography


Jordan Bear’s scholarship has focused on the historical intersection of visual representation, knowledge and belief. His first book, Disillusioned: Victorian Photography and the Discerning Subject (Penn State University Press, 2016), tells the story of how photographic trickery in the 1850s and 1860s participated in the fashioning of the modern subject.

A second area of research has been the visual representation of the past and its relationship to historiography, which culminated in a co-edited volume, with Mark Salber Phillips, entitled What Was History Painting and What is it Now? (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019).

More generally, he maintains a research focus on the visual representation of knowledge in the natural and human sciences, as well as on visual communication in the illustrated press.  He is currently engaged in an extended study of the concept of trust in nineteenth-century visual media.


Bear - What Was History Painting book cover














Recent Graduate Courses

  • Photography, Illusion, and Knowledge in 19th-Century Europe
  • Viewing History: The Visual Experience of the Past, 1750–1900
  • Realisms (co-taught with Prof. Matt Kavaler)
  • Histories and Theories of Photographic Manipulation

Recent Undergraduate Courses

  • Modernism and Anti-Modernism: 1750–1900
  • Nineteenth-Century Landscape Painting
  • Nineteenth-Century Photography
  • Introduction to the History of Photography
  • The Cultures of Exhibition in 19th-Century Europe

Selected Publications

  • "Photography and Faith.”  In The Art Institute of Chicago Field Guide to Photography and Media (Chicago and New Haven: Art Institute of Chicago and Yale University Press, forthcoming January 2023).
  • "Wild Grandeur and Shadowy Fears’: Picturing Danger in the Italian South,” in Maria Antonella Pelizzari and Scott Wilcox, eds., The Idea of Italy: Photographs and the British Imagination, 1840-1900 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2022), 82-89.
  • “Where There’s Smoke… Photography’s Causal Histories,” in October 163 (Winter 2018), 3–20.
  • “Collectors, Copyists, and Collaborators: On Rejlander’s Relationships,” in Lori Pauli, ed., Oscar Gustave Rejlander: Artist-Photographer (Ottawa and New Haven: National Gallery of Canada and Yale University Press, 2018), 75–85.
  • “Natural Darkness and Artificial Light,” in Journal of Victorian Culture 23:4 (2018), 1–8.
  • “Pieces of the Past: Early Photomontage and the Voice of History,” in History of Photography 41:2 (Spring 2017), 126–140.
  • Before-and-After Photography: Histories and Contexts, ed. with Kate Palmer Albers (London: Bloomsbury, 2017).
  • Disillusioned: Victorian Photography and the Discerning Subject (University Park and London: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2015; paperback, 2016). 
    • Winner: Historians of British Art Book Award for Exemplary Scholarship on the Period after 1800.
    • Honourable Mention: Northeast Victorian Studies Association, Honourable Mention for the Sonia Rudikoff Prize for Best First Book in Victorian Studies.


PhD, Columbia University, 2009

Administrative Service

Associate Chair, Undergraduate Studies, 2013–15