R Kelsey

Robin Kelsey

Shirley Carter Burden Professor of Photography
Dean of Arts and Humanities, Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Robin Kelsey is Shirley Carter Burden Professor of Photography and Dean of Arts and Humanities at Harvard University. He is a member of the Committee on Higher Degrees in the History of American Civilization and a Faculty Associate of the Center for the Environment. He currently serves as President of the Harvard College chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and as Co-Chair of the Harvard University Committee on the Arts. He holds a PhD from Harvard and a JD from Yale Law School and has practiced law in California.

A specialist in the histories of photography and American art, Professor Kelsey has published on such topics as the role of chance in photography, geographical survey photography, landscape theory, ecology and historical interpretation, picture theory, and the nexus of art and law. His book Photography and the Art of Chance was published by Harvard University Press in 2015, and his book, Archive Style: Photographs and Illustrations for U.S. Surveys, 1850-1890, was published by the University of California Press in 2007. With Blake Stimson, he co-edited a book entitled The Meaning of Photography, published by the Clark Art Institute and Yale University Press in 2008. In 2004, he was awarded the Arthur Kingsley Porter Prize by the College Art Association for his essay “Viewing the Archive: Timothy O’Sullivan’s Photographs for the Wheeler Survey, 1871-1874.” He has held several fellowships, including a Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship and a Clark Art Institute Fellowship, and in 2006 received Harvard’s Roslyn Abramson Award for excellence and sensitivity in teaching undergraduates. In 2010-2011, he was the Robert Sterling Clark Visiting Professor at Williams College and, for five weeks, a visiting professor at the École normale supérieure, Paris, under the auspices of the Terra Foundation for American Art. In 2016, he was named a Walter Channing Cabot Fellow, in recognition of achievement and scholarly eminence in the study of literature, history, or art, for Photography and the Art of Chance.