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Dr Allison Deutsch

  • Overview

    Overview

    Biography

    Dr Allison Deutsch graduated from Williams College with a BA in Art History in 2011, and completed her PhD at University College London in 2016. She is a specialist in nineteenth-century French painting and material culture, with a special interest in feminist methodologies and sensory studies.

    Dr Deutsch joined the Birkbeck Department of History of Art in 2020 as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow. Prior to joining Birkbeck, she was an Associate Lecturer at The Courtauld Institute of Art and a Teaching Fellow at University College London.

    Her first book, Consuming Painting: Food and the Feminine in Impressionist Paris, is out 1 March 2021 with The Pennsylvania State University Press. Consuming Painting examines the culinary metaphors that the most influential nineteenth-century critics used to express their attraction or disgust toward modern-life painting. In some of the best known critical texts of the period, writers posed viewing as analogous to ingestion and used comparison to food to characterise the appearance of paint, to describe the painter’s process, and to report on represented figures. The migrating language of food and consumption reveals the visceral reactions that these paintings invited in their earliest publics, offering new histories for familiar artworks and fresh possibilities for experiencing and interpreting them.

    Dr Deutsch’s current Leverhulme-funded research project at Birkbeck addresses the embodied reception of Impressionism beyond the sense of taste, and interrogates the enduring orthodoxy that Impressionism was a quintessentially optical art. It attends to the social politics involved in the metaphorics of sense and sensation in these nineteenth-century responses, as well as in the art-historical literatures that have suppressed them to celebrate opticality.

    Highlights

    • Dr Deutsch's first book, Consuming Painting: Food and the Feminine in Impressionist Paris, is out 1 March 2021 with The Pennsylvania State University Press.

    Qualifications

    • PhD, University College London, 2016
    • MA, University College London, 2012
    • BA, Williams College, 2011

    Web profiles

    Honours and awards

    • Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship , The Leverhulme Trust , November 2019
    • Endorsed as a Person of Exceptional Promise in the field of History of Art , The British Academy, November 2018
    • Junior Research Fellowship , The Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London, November 2017
    • Society of Dix-Neuviémistes Postgraduate Prize, Society of Dix-Neuviémistes , November 2016

    ORCID

    0000-0002-3490-111X
  • Research

    Research

    Research interests

    • Nineteenth-century French painting and material culture
    • Feminist methodologies
    • Sensory studies
    • Culinary history

    Research overview

    Dr Allison Deutsch is a specialist in nineteenth-century French painting and material culture, with a special interest in feminist methodologies and sensory studies. Her current research, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, addresses the embodied reception of Impressionism. While most histories of modernism from the mid-twentieth century into the present have framed Impressionism in terms of purely optical experience, its first audiences related to it as art of and for the body. Moving beyond now-famous defences by such as commentators as Zola, Duranty, and Laforgue, which linked Impressionism to opticality, science, progress, Frenchness, and modernity, this research considers the pervasive claims by other critics that Impressionism endangered all of those constructions. Tracing complaints that paintings decomposed, that diseased artists produced infectious works, that Impressionism confused the race of its sitters, and that Impressionism threatened fertility, Deutsch emphasises how that art affected bodies and seemed to take on an embodiment of its own.

    This research builds on Dr Deutsch’s first book, Consuming Painting: Food and the Feminine in Impressionist Paris, which also challenges the view that Impressionism was above all about visual experience. Examining the culinary metaphors that the most influential critics used to express their attraction or disgust toward painting, Consuming Painting rethinks French modern-life painting in relation to the visceral reactions that these works evoked in their earliest publics. Writers posed viewing as analogous to ingestion and used comparisons to food to describe the appearance of paint and the painter’s process. The food metaphors they chose were aligned with specific female types, such as red meat for sexualised female flesh, confections for fashionably made-up women, and hearty vegetables for agricultural workers. These culinary figures of speech provide important insights into both the fabrication of the feminine and the construction of masculinity in nineteenth-century France. Consuming Painting exposes the social politics at stake in the deeply gendered metaphors of consumption.

  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching

    Teaching

    Teaching modules

    • Art History: A Survey (ARVC205S4)
    • Impressionist Paris: Modernity and Difference (ARVC277S6)
  • Publications

    Publications

    Article

    Book

    Editorial