Assistant Professor of English
Joined Connecticut College: 2005
B.A., Harvard University; Ph.D. Duke University, 2008
Film and visual culture
Courtney Baker graduated cum laude with a B.A. from Harvard University in 1996 and obtained her Ph.D. in Literature from Duke University in 2008. Before coming to Connecticut College in 2005 as a Visiting Instructor, she taught classes in film, literature, and cultural studies at Duke and at Denison University in Ohio.
Her research and teaching focus on the complexities of culture and social relations. She believes that the most interesting objects of study are the issues and artifacts that influence the ways we inhabit the world.
She has taught courses on "Constructing the Human" and "Representation and Visual Culture" to delve deeply into the stories, histories, and images that inform our knowledge of ourselves and others.
In her literature classes, such as "Introduction to African-American Literature" and "Narratives of Black Travel", she approaches the texts from multiple perspectives, including race, gender, and period critiques but also formal and linguistic methods.
She invites her students to maintain their skepticism while remaining open to new ways of thinking. She aims to make the classroom a dynamic space filled with lively conversation, and looks forward to teaching new classes on "Toni Morrison" and "Race and Literature."
Professor Baker researches races and visual culture. Her dissertation project explored the political implications of racialized viewing positions. She looked at the application and reception of images of black suffering and death, including the photographs of Emmett Till (the 14 year-old African-American boy who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955), images of actual and imagined lynchings, and filmic representations of murder. Her article on Emmett Till, entitled "Emmett Till, Justice, and the Task of Recognition", was published in the June 2006 issue of the Journal of American Culture. She has also written and published in the magazine Art Papers. Presently, her interests are turning to more issues of crime and representation.
Professor Baker's dissertation, titled "Misrecognized: Looking at Images of Black Suffering and Death", uses theories of race, visual culture, and affect to analyze the implicit politics involved in bearing witness - in person and via photographic and cinematic images - to lynching and other acts of racialized violence.