Dr Caroline Blinder

Staff details


Reader in English and American Literature


English and Creative Writing


c.blinder (@gold.ac.uk)

Dr. Caroline Blinder’s research focuses on the intersections between Modernism, literature, and Visual Culture.

Dr. Caroline Blinder is Reader in American Literature and Culture with a specialism in the intersections between photography and literature. She has published widely on European and United States photography in the 20th century – from work on Walker Evans and James Agee to Roy DeCarava and Langston Hughes – to more contemporary photo-textual collaborations by Richard Misrach and Robert Frank. She regularly reviews for Modernism/modernity (Johns Hopkins U.P.), Journal of American Studies (Cambridge U.P.) amongst others and acts as a reader for Palgrave Macmillan and Bloomsbury Press. She has given papers and lectures at numerous public-facing institutions: the Photographers’ Gallery in London, The BBC, The University of Copenhagen, The Center for Modernism and Art at the University of Turin, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, amongst others. Caroline is currently working on a longer project on the role of polaroid photography and on environmentalism and landscape photography globally.

Academic qualifications

  • Ph.D King's College London 1995
  • M.A. Northwestern University, Chicago 1990
  • B.A. English Literature, Tufts University, Boston 1988

Teaching and supervision

Since starting at Goldsmiths, Caroline has consistently supervised doctoral projects and post graduate research . She has supervised research on Post-Colonial Representations of the Desert in Anglo-phone literature, British Women Detective Writers, Radical Aesthetics in the work of Henry Miller and Ezra Pound, and The Role of Thanatos in Allan Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, to name a few.

  • Modern American Fiction - 2nd and 3rd year option
  • English and Creative Writing
  • MA in Literature Studies - American Literature and Culture Pathway
  • American Science Fiction - Post 1950s
  • American Crime Fiction - Undergraduate option
  • Dustbowl to Dreamfactory: Writing and Visual Culture during the Depression

Research interests

Most of my research in the last decade has centered on 20th and 21st century documentary photography – from the 1930s onwards - and how the camera operates as a metaphor for the visionary abilities of the artist and as a democratising art-form. I have thus written extensively on representations of the quotidian and on how photography has been used to consolidate the place of the everyman/woman within modernist practice. I am particularly interested in how captions, introductions, and accompanying text operate in books of photography and in the mechanisms traceable in the sequencing and ordering of images and text.
I am currently working on a longer project on the role of polaroid photography - conceptually and practically in post 1970s art practice and continuing my interest in how photography emerges in popular culture – television as well as cinema. My chapter on True Detective and The American Sublime and a work in progress on the tv series Hannibal and Still Life aesthetics forms part of what will be an edited collection on the politics of Television in the Netflix era. One of my more recent edited collections of essays is on American Landscape Photography; Imaging the Nation (The Journal of American Studies, 2017), which looks at the politics of race and class in more contemporary American landscape photography. Part of my contribution was on the photographer Richard Misrach's images of ecologically damaged sites in the South - a project that I am extending into a wider look at how painterly tropes, from the sublime to abstract expressionism, come into play in landscape photography that deals with the aftereffects of industrialisation - both in terms of borders and migration more globally, sites marked by historical trauma, and by toxicity and waste.

Grants and awards

2019: Terra Foundation Teaching Fellowship in Japan
A one year teaching professorship in Kyoto and Kobe at Doshisha and Kobe Universities teaching American Art History

2022: Paul Mellon Senior Visiting Fellowship at the Center for the Advanced Study of the Arts, The National Gallery, Washington DC
Two month fellowship to access the Robert Frank Archives

Founding Fathers' Research Grant British Association of American Studies
Travel grant to access archival materials in the United States on Dorothea Lange and Margaret Bourke White

Publications and research outputs


Blinder, Caroline. 2019. The American Photo-Text 1930-1960. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9781474404129

Blinder, Caroline. 2006. A Kind of Patriotism: Jack Kerouac's Introduction to Robert Frank's The Americans. Rodopi. ISBN 9042016981

Blinder, Caroline. 2005. Its Beautiful Visual Entirety: Kerouac's introduction to Frank's The Americans. Cambridge Scholars Press. ISBN 1904303463

Edited Book

Blinder, Caroline, ed. 2010. New Critical Essays on James Agee and Walker Evans: Perspectives on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0230102927

Book Section

Blinder, Caroline. 2017. ‘Ruses and Ruminations: The Architecture of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men’. In: Michael Lofaro, ed. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men at 75. Knoxville: U. of Tennessee Press.

Blinder, Caroline. 2017. Ruses and Ruminations: The Architecture of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. In: Michael A. Lofaro, ed. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men at 75: Anniversary Essays. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 9781621902614

Blinder, Caroline. 2016. Fragments of the Future: Walker Evans’s Polaroids. In: Catherine Gander and Sarah Garland, eds. Mixed Messages: American Correspondences in Visual and Verbal Practices. Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-1-5261-0180-8


Blinder, Caroline. 2020. Richard Misrach and Kate Orff's Petrochemical America: Cartographies of the Picturesque. Journal of American Studies, 54(3), pp. 582-603. ISSN 0021-8758

Blinder, Caroline and Lloyd, Christopher. 2020. US Topographics: Imaging National Landscapes. Journal of American Studies, 54(3), pp. 461-469. ISSN 0021-8758

Blinder, Caroline. 2018. Looking for Harlem: The absent Narrator in Roy DeCarava and Langston Hughes' The Sweet Flypaper of Life (1955). CoSMo - Comparative Studies in Modernism(13), ISSN 2281-6658

Media engagements

2019: Photobooks: The Book Club Test
Source Photographic Review short film on iconic photo-books

Conferences and talks

2019: 'An Unmade Book: Walker Evans' 1970s Polaroids of Letters'
Paper given at Commitment, Memory, Materiality and the Art Market, Maison Francaise, Oxford U. 2019

2016: 'Toxic Beauty' Topography and Aesthetics in Richard Misrach and Kate Orff's Petrochemical America, Queen's U. Belfast

2018: Culture Vulture: Dr. Lecter’s Ties and other Aesthetic Modes of Consumption in Hannibal, Madness in Popular Culture Conference, University of Edinburg

2015: “Here I am”. The Vernacular Vision of Langston Hughes and Roy DeCarava in The Sweet Flypaper of Life (1955),
Borders of the Visible: Intersections between literature and photography at ‘Centro Arti della Modernitá, University of Turin

Postgraduate Supervision

I am keen to hear from potential candidates interested in the intersections between text and image and literature and photography more widely. My interest is both in United States work from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries but also in transatlantic projects - particularly with a Surrealist connection.
I've supervised projects on The Beat movement, Henry Miller, and other countercultural writers of the mid 20th century and on genre fiction, detective writing (British Women writers of Detective fiction), Travel Writing (From a Post-Colonial Angle looking at Anglophone narratives from the late 19th century and onwards), and Emerson's Transcendentalism in the context of 19th century economics and politics. At the moment I am supervising work on documentary film in the post war era and how this impacts identity politics in the Caribbean. Any proposals with an interest in the intersections between documentary aesthetics, politics and popular culture from the early 20th century onwards would be welcome as well