Josh Smith is a PhD candidate specializing in modern European Art at UNC-Chapel Hill. He received his BA in Art History and Studio Art, with a minor in French, from the University of Minnesota, Morris. In 2015, he completed his MA at UNC-Chapel Hill. Smith’s research focuses on French art between 1800 and 1960, the intersection of art and politics, and visual constructions of masculinity. In his teaching and scholarship, he advocates for and employs an interdisciplinary approach to the study of visual culture.
Bringing together methods from art history, cultural history, and French studies, Smith’s dissertation explores the ways artists and nationalists jointly constructed Franco-Prussian War memory through the visual sphere in Third Republic France. He argues that, to conceal and even counter concerns about modernity, these actors used war imagery to envision a nostalgic French past, one caught between the reverberations of France’s traumatic defeat and the promise of a rectified future.
His other ongoing research projects include article-length studies of Le Corbusier’s colonial landscapes in Poésie sur Alger, issues of testimony in Marc Garanger’s photography, and the anarchist masculinities imagined in L’assiette au beurre. He is currently completing an article on the controversial Maison de l’Histoire de France, a French history museum proposed by President Nicholas Sarkozy in 2007 and cancelled in 2012.
Since arriving at UNC in 2013, Smith has received several awards. In 2018, the Ackland Art Museum awarded him the Joan and Robert Huntley Art History Scholarship, the museum’s independent curatorial fellowship. His dissertation research has been supported by the Kenan Trust Grant, the Pre-Dissertation Exploration Award from the Center for Global Initiatives, and travel awards from the Department of Art and Art History. As a fellow in the Historial de la Grande Guerre’s 2016 “‘anatomie’ des batailles” seminar, he traveled to northeastern France and participated in the centennial of the Battle of the Somme. In 2018, the Frank Porter Graham Society recognized Smith for his contributions to the art history graduate program, including two years as co-president of the Art Student Graduate Organization and two years as chair of the symposium committee.