Ethan Robey | The Penn State Stuckeman School Skip to main content
Ethan Robey Ph.D.
Associate Teaching Professor of Art History
Portrait of Ethan Robey
Graphic Design Program
202 Borland

Ethan Robey teaches courses in graphic design history, american art, world’s fairs, and museum studies. His research has largely been in 19th- and 20th-century art, design and material culture, with a special interest in spectacles, display and exhibitions.

He has published articles and reviews in journals such as the Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts, Early Popular Visual Culture, and the Journal of Design History, on displays of technology and consumer goods in museums and world’s fairs; panoramas and other forms of visual spectacle; and 19th-century American painting.

He has written chapters on the classed nature of art appreciation at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia's Cultural Landscape: The Sartain Family Legacy (2000), and on the role of trades fairs in the development of bourgeois consumerism in The American Bourgeoisie: Distinction and Identity in the Nineteenth Century (2010).

In the exhibition catalogue Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at World’s Fairs, 1851–1939 (2012), Robey explored the relationships between design and nationalism, a topic that became the main theme of a volume of essays he co-edited with Professor David Raizman, Expanding Nationalisms at World Fairs: Identity, Diversity and Exchange, 1855-1914 (2018).

Prior to his appointment at Penn State, Robey was the associate director of the master’s program in the history of design and curatorial studies, jointly run by Parsons School of Design and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, and assistant professor of the history of decorative arts and design at Parsons School of Design.

Education

  • Ph.D., M.Phil., and M.A. in Art History (Columbia University)
  • B.A. in History of Art (Yale University)

Courses Taught

  • GD 202: The History of Graphic Design

Research

Art of the United States, History of Design, Theory of Exhibitions, and Museum Studies

Publications

  • Expanding Nationalisms at World Fairs: Identity, Diversity and Exchange, 1855-1914, eds. David Raizman and Ethan Robey (London and New York: Routledge, 2018).
  • "Kings, Peasants, Dragons and Flowers: Varieties of National Symbolism in World’s Fair Objects,” in Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at World’s Fairs, 1851–1939, eds. Jason Busch and Catherine Futter (New York: Skira Rizzoli, 2012). Winner: 2013 Henry-Russell Hitchcock Award.
  • “‘The Steady Supporters of Order’: American Mechanics’ Institute Fairs as Icons of Bourgeois Culture,” in The American Bourgeoisie: Distinction and Identity in the Nineteenth Century, eds. Sven Beckert and Julia Rosenbaum (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).
  • “John Sartain and the Contest of Taste at the Centennial,” in Philadelphia's Cultural Landscape: The Sartain Family Legacy, eds. Katharine Martinez and Page Talbott (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000). Winner: Ewell L. Newman Book Award; 56th Philadelphia Book Show Award.
  • “Inquiry, History, and Dialogue,” Design Journal, no. 3 (Fall 2015).
  • “Souvenirs of the Invisible: Display of Energy at Twentieth-Century World’s Fairs,” Souvenirs and Objects of Remembrance. Themed issue, Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts 27 (2015).
  • “John Vanderlyn’s View of Versailles: Spectacle, Landscape, and the Visual Demands of Panorama Painting,” Early Popular Visual Culture 12, No. 1 (February 2014): 1-21.
  • “The Battle of the Centuries,” The World of Tomorrow: Exploring the 1939–40 World’s Fair Collection, Biblion: The Boundless Library (New York Public Library Digital Publication, 2011).
  • “Scenic Engineering: On the Aesthetics of Bridges in the Nineteenth Century,” National Design Journal (2006; issue suspended).

Built Works

  • Essay contributor, “Masterpieces of Everyday New York: Objects as Story,” Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery, Parsons The New School for Design, June–September 2013.
  • Curator, “Picturing the White City: Architectural Photography at the World’s Columbian Exposition, 1893,” Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, November 1993–January 1994.

CV + Files + Links