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Elizabeth Guffey

Professor of Art History

Professor Elizabeth Guffey is the coordinator of the MA program in modern and contemporary art, criticism, and theory at Purchase College. She is co-editor of Making Disability Modern (Bloomsbury, 2020) with Bess Williamson. She is also author of Designing Disability: Symbols, Spaces and Society (Bloomsbury, 2017).  

Her Posters: A Global History (Reaktion, 2014) reexamines the poster’s roots in the 19th century and explores the relevance they still possess in the age of digital media. She is also the author of Retro: The Culture of Revival (Reaktion, 2006). Professor Guffey is the author of numerous articles on design and is the founding editor of the peer-reviewed journal Design and Culture, published by Routledge.


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Research Interests

Elizabeth Guffey’s research lies at the intersection of art and design, visual culture, museology and disability studies.

Representative Courses

ARH 2160: Picturing America: Art and American Identity to 1913

ARH 3285/5285 Design and Culture

ARH 3405/5405 Design History and Theory: 1750 - Today

ARH 3510/5510 19th Century Art

ARH 4006/5006 Investigating Normal

ARH (TBA) The Inclusive Museum


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Presentations / Conferences

book chapters:

“Nostalgia,” A Companion to Contemporary Design Since 1945(Hoboken: Blackwell, 2018)

“Designing Disabilities, Historical and Contemporary Perspectives,” Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design (Weil-am-Rhein: Vitra Design Museum, 2018)

“April Greiman’s Things “Made in Space,” Design, Thing Theory, and The Lives of Objects (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2017)

“Retrofuturism, Steampunk and Science Fiction’s Memory.” The Oxford Handbook of Science Fiction(Oxford University Press, 2014)

Socialist Movements and the Development of the Political Poster.” A History of Visual Culture (London: Berg, 2010)

“Illuminating Texts: Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Lamps and the Rhetoric of Production, Authenticity, and Consumption.” Objects, Audiences, and Literatures: Alternative Narratives in the History of Design, edited by David Raizman and Carma R. Gorman (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007), 27-58.

Representative Articles:

“A Symbol for Nobody” New York Times (August 25, 2018)

“The Scandinavian Roots of International Symbol of Access” Design and Culture 7:3 (special issue edited by Bobbye Tigerman) (December, 2015)

“A Fine Disregard: The Disabling Art Museum” Journal of Visual Culture, 14.1 (April, 2015)

“Crafting Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Retro-Futurism, Steampunk, and the Problem of Making in the Twenty-First Century” Journal of Modern Craft, 7.3 (November, 2014)

“Knowing Their Space: The Design of Jim Crow Signs in the Segregated South” Design Issues, 28.2 (Spring, 2012)


Selected Talks & Presentations:

“Bringing Access to Design Practice: Teaching Inclusion in the 21st Century,” interview, CAA Conversations Podcast rebecca-mushtare/

“Democracy in the Future: Normalcy and Disease,” panelist, Albertine Festival, French Embassy, New York

“Museums, Access, and the Ethics of Care,” panel organizer, College Art Association, Annual Conference, Los Angeles

“Nodes of Access: Perspectives on Inclusive Cultural Practices,” panelist, The 8th Floor (at Wave Hill, New York)

“Museums, Access, and the Ethics of Care,” panel organizer, College Art Association, Annual Conference, Los Angeles

“Access in the Digital Humanities,” keynote lecture, Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations, Montreal

“Retro-futurism,” guest lecture, Dallas Museum of Art

“Design and the History of Now” keynote lecture, Design History Society, Middlesex University, London

“Design History in the Anthropocene: A Retro Idea?” keynote lecture, Design and The Anthropocene Conference, UC Irvine