Dorothy Barenscott

Dip. Arts (U.B.C.), B.A. (U.B.C.), M.A. (U.B.C.), Ph.D. (U.B.C.)
Phone: 604-599-3333
Surrey Office: S SPRUCE 152D

I am an art historian, professor, and writer whose interdisciplinary research relates to the interplay between urban space and emerging technology and media forms in the articulation of a range of modern and postmodern identities and exhibition practices. My publication record reflects these interests with examinations of painted panoramas, experimental and mainstream cinema, modern architecture, conceptual photography, radical place-making, theories of the avant-garde, cosmopolitanism, and the business of art and art collecting. You can find more of my writing and research, course information, student resources, and links to my published work on my public blog-- Avant-Guardian Musings-- an alternative space of dialogue that I have created to extend and invite conversation about art and visual culture beyond the university classroom.

In 2013, I accepted a full-time faculty position in the Fine Arts Department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and was tasked with expanding art history course offerings and developing a range of special topics seminars at the senior level of the (then new) BFA program. Among the courses I have designed are the history of architecture, history of photography, avant-garde and new wave cinema, art theory, art and fashion, street and graffiti art, together with the creation of two popular survey courses in film studies and visual art, urban, and screen culture that attract non-BFA majors to our program. While at KPU, I have also established and led the popular KPU Fine Arts Field School to several art cities around the world: Paris/Documenta 2012; NYC/Venice Biennale 2015; Paris/Documenta 2017; London/Venice Biennale 2019.


My Ph.D. was completed in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University of British Columbia with a dissertation titled Troubling Modernity: Spatial Politics, Technologies of Seeing, and the Crisis of the City and the World’s Exhibition in Fin de Siècle Budapest. I have held a doctoral fellowship with the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada and am a past recipient of the Simons Foundation Doctoral Scholarship. I also completed a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship with the Cultural Studies Department at Trent University.


I recently completed co-editing Canadian Culinary Imaginations (McGill-Queen’s University Press), a book project conceived with Dr. Shelley Boyd (KPU, English Department), which is an interdisciplinary collection that explores how Canadian writers, artists, academics, cooks, performers, and gallery curators are inspired and challenged by the topic of food. This collection brings together leading researchers from the disciplines of food studies, literature, art history, visual arts, and performance; graduate students, journalists, and community activists who are pursuing innovative food projects; and emerging and internationally acclaimed artists and writers for whom food plays a central role in their creative practice. 


Since 2017, I have also been collaborating with Openwork Art Advisory, and founder Dr. Lara Tomaszewska, as a specialist advisor and art consultant on a project-by-project basis, and as co-investigator on research and publication projects exploring the intersection of art history and the art market. In 2019, I was an Eadington Visiting Fellow in the Centre for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. At UNLV, I completed archival research, a public lecture, and initiated a study that examines the roles that visual art and design, art collecting, and cultural capital (around which the art world operates), have played in the rebranding of the Las Vegas gaming and hotel-resort experience.


To date, I continue to participate—through my blog, conference panels, research, and in-class experimentation and implementation—in critical conversations in my field around the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and Open Education. In 2020, I will be taking up a United Nations Sustainable Development Open Pedagogy Fellowship to develop OER (Open Educational Resources) with an interdisciplinary team of academic peers from Canada and the United States.

Areas of Interest

  • modern and contemporary art history and visual culture
  • art theory and avant-garde studies
  • urban studies and cosmopolitanism
  • film studies and new wave, experimental cinema
  • business of art and the art market
  • architecture and sociology of space
  • art history pedagogy, open learning, and scholarship of teaching and learning

Scholarly Work

  • Canadian Culinary Imaginations. co-edited with Shelley Boyd, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2020.
  • “Breaking the Fourth Wall: Exposing the Business of Contemporary Art in Documentary Film.” In Through a Glass, Darkly: Screening the Art World, edited by Temenuga Trifonova. Amsterdam University Press (book proposal under review).
  • "Learning from Las Vegas Redux: Steve Wynn and the New Business of Art.” In Spatial Transgressions In the Arts, edited by Gregory Blair and Noa Bronstein. Palgrave MacMillan (book proposal accepted and manuscript under review).
  • “Slow Photography.” In Sylvia Grace Borda: Shifting Perspectives, edited by Sylvia Grace Borda and Jordan Strom. Heritage House Publishing, 2020.
  • "Life - Caught in the Act! -Mobilizing the Cinematic Gaze at the 1896 Budapest World's Fair." In Meet Me at the Fair: A World's Fair Reader, edited by Celia Pearce. Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2014.
  • "Trafficking in Photographs: Representational Power and the Latent Hydra of Revolution” in History and Memory (Fall/Winter 2010). Indiana University Press and Tel Aviv University, Israel/USA.
  • “Built Space, Style, and the Dis/ordering of Fin de Siècle Budapest” in a special thematic issue on Nineteenth Century Exhibitions with Slavic Review (Fall 2010). University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA.
  • “’This is our Holocaust’: Deepa Mehta’s Earth and the Question of Partition Trauma.” in Mediascape: Journal of the Critical Studies Program at UCLA School of Film, Television, and Digital Media vol. 2 University of California, Los Angeles, USA, Spring 2006. Also published in Directions in Cultural History vol. 21 University of California, Los Angeles, USA, Fall 2006
  • “Producing the Spaces of the Future Past? A Critical Look at Imre Makovecz’s ‘Living Architecture.’” in Slovo: Inter-disciplinary Journal of Russian, Eurasian and East European Affairs 18.1. Maney Publishing and University College, London, UK, Spring 2006.
  • “Sensationalizing’ Mapplethorpe A Decade Later: What Dirty Pictures Can Show Us About ‘The Culture Wars’ Today.” in Entertext 5.1. (Special Issue “Art and the Market”) Brunel University, UK, Spring 2006.
  • “Spatial Politics and the Crisis of Modern Bodies: Founding and Finding Modern Hungary in Fin de Siècle Budapest.” in Envisioning: Studies in Image and Idiom (Special Issue “Identity and Space” 2003) Binghamton University, USA.
  • “Grand Theory/Grand Tour: Negotiating Samuel Huntington in the ‘Grey Zone’ of Europe.” in Postmodern Culture Journal 12.3 (2002) Johns Hopkins University Press, USA.
  • “Tiko Kerr, Unframed.” Commissioned essay published in art catalogue for Tiko Kerr Art Exhibition “Reframed: Painting and Collage By Tiko Kerr” at Gordon Smith Gallery, May-August 2019.
  • “Lost In Transfer.” Commissioned essay published in art catalogue for Nicoletta Baumeister Art Exhibition “In the Realm of Perception” at Surrey Art Gallery, February-March 2019.
  • “Sylvia Grace Borda: Farm Tableaux and Google Street View: From Vancouver School to the Global Contemporary Art World.” Lead Essay in EU Visual Arts and Innovation Exhibition Catalogue, 2018.
  • “The Sign System of Ambivalence: “It’s Coming Sometime and Maybe…” Lead Essay in Exhibition Catalogue for “Dick Averns: Ambivalence Boulevard.” Vernon Public Art Gallery, Vernon B.C., July 2-September 25, 2009.
  • “Technology Laid Bare: Muybridge and the Machinery of Viewing.” Essay in Companion Guide for Studies in Motion: The Hauntings of Edwaerd Muybridge for the Kevin Kerr Play “Studies in Motion: The Hauntings of Eadward Muybridge,” Department of Theatre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver B.C. January 17-29, 2006.
  • Review of Cuevas-Wolf, Cristina; Poggi, Isotta, eds., Promote, Tolerate, Ban: Art and Culture in Cold War Hungary (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2018) in HABSBURG, H-Net Reviews. June, 2018.
  • Review of Nathaniel D. Wood, Becoming Metropolitan (DeKalb: Northern Illinois Press, 2010) in Austrian History Yearbook (Spring, 2012) University of Minnesota, USA.
  • Review of Robert Hariman, and John Louis Lucaites, No Caption Needed: Iconic Photographs, Public Culture, and Liberal Democracy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007) in Invisible Culture 13 (2009) University of Rochester, USA.
  • Review of Mary Gluck, Popular Bohemia: Modernism and Urban Culture in Nineteenth Century Paris (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005) in Victorian Review 33.2 (2007) Victorian Studies Association of Western Canada, Canada.
  • “Rethinking Tradition as a Discursive Category.” Review Essay of Mark Salber Phillips and Gordon Schochet, eds., Questions of Tradition (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004) in Left History 10.2 (2005) York University, Canada.
  • “Thoughts on Cosmopolitanism.” Review Essay of Carol A. Breckenridge, Sheldon Pollock, Homi K. Bhabha, and Dipesh Chakrabarty. Public Culture Volume 12.3: Special Issue on Cosmopolitanism. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000) in Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture 2.4 (2002).
  • Session Co-Chair, “The Price of Everything: Commerce, Aesthetic, and the “Value” of Contemporary Art.” Universities Art Association of Canada Conference. Vancouver B.C. October 15-17, 2020.
  • Session Co-Chair, “Art History Pedagogy: Beyond the Slide Test—(Re) Assessment and Evaluation.” Universities Art Association of Canada Conference. Quebec City. October 24-27, 2019.
  • “Exposed Seeing: Cosmopolitanism and Modern Spectatorship.” European Association for Urban History (EAUH) 14th International Conference on Urban History. Rome, Italy. August 29- September 1, 2018.
  • “Canadian Culinary Imaginations: Understanding Canada Through the Art and Literature of Food.” Defining Canada, 1867-2017: Values, Practices and Representations. Congress of the French Association of Canadian Studies. Université Paris Diderot, France. June 14-16, 2017.
  • “Steve Wynn: Art Collecting and Exhibition, Vegas Style.” Private Collecting and Public Display: Art Markets and Museums. University of Leeds, UK. March 30-31, 2017.
  • "Convenience Matters: Douglas Coupland's Canadian Pantry." co-presented with Dr. Shelley Boyd. "Gastronomy, Culture, and the Arts: A Scholarly Exchange of Epic Portions." University of Toronto Mississauga. Toronto, Canada. March 12-13, 2016.
  • “Objects and Events: The Emergence of the Venice Biennale as Global Spectacle.” The Venice Biennale and the Art Market, the Venice Biennale as an Art Market: Anatomy of a Complex Relationship. IESA (Institut d’ Études Supérieures des Arts). London, UK. February 3-5, 2016.
  • “Georg Lukács, Radicalized Placemaking, and the Challenge of New Media to the History of Modern Art." College Art Association Conference. New York, USA. February 12-14, 2015.
  • Session Co-Chair, “At the Intersection of Art History and the Art Market: Navigating The Business of Art." Universities Art Association of Canada Conference. Ontario College of Art and Design, Toronto Canada. October 24-26, 2014.
  • “The Limits of Modernism: Exploring Discourses of Failure in the Historiography of Eastern European Film History.” Universities Art Association of Canada Conference. Banff Centre for the Performing Arts, Banff Alberta. October 20-22, 2013.
  • “Interfering Signals: Fractured Connectivity in the Disconnected Network of the Budapest Avant-Garde.” The Networks in Exile Conference of the International Society of Exile Studies, University of Vermont, USA. September 21, 2013.
  • “Object Lesson—The Case of Tobias Wong.” AAH Association of Art Historians 39th Annual Conference, University of Reading, UK. April 11-13, 2013.
  • “New Media Art and the Digital Turn.” Critical Themes in Media Studies Conference. New School Department of Media Studies, New York, USA. April 13-14, 2012.
  • “Picturing Contested Space and Subjectivity in the Urban Milieus of Fin de Siècle Budapest and Vienna.” College Art Association Conference. Los Angeles, California, USA. February 22-25, 2012.
  • “Intersecting Worlds of Commerce and Experimentation: Creating Legitimacy for the Art of Media.” Rewire: Conference on the Histories of Media Art, Science and Technology. University of Liverpool, UK, September 28-30, 2011.
  • “Exploring the Disconnected Nexus of the Budapest Avant-Garde.” European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies Annual Conference. Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan Poland, September 9-11, 2010.
  • “Rearticulating Hungarian National Identity: The Constraints of Dualism and the Politics of Space in Fin de Siècle Budapest.” Cities and Nationialisms: Centre for Metropolitan History, Institute for Historical Research Conference. University of London. London, UK. June 20-22, 2010.
  • “The Unlikely Director: Paul Fejös and the Hollywood Connection, 1927-28.” College Art Association Conference. Los Angeles, California, USA. February 25-28, 2009.
  • “The Urban Mediascape and Contested Subjectivity: Preparing To See and Preparing To Be Seen.” The Intermedial City: Practices, Technologies, Imaginaries, 10th International Conference of the Center of Intermedial Research. Centre de Recherche sur l’Intermédialité (CRI) / Centre canadien d’études allemandes et européennes joint conference. McGill University, QU, Canada. October 9-11, 2008.
  • “What Role Does Art Play in Rebranding the Vegas Gaming Experience?” The Eadington Fellow Colloquium, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. USA. April 26, 2019
  • “Tiko Kerr, Unframed and In Conversation.” Public Talk for Tiko Kerr Art Exhibition “Reframed: Painting and Collage By Tiko Kerr”at Gordon Smith Gallery, Vancouver, BC. Canada. May 25, 2019.
  • “‘What Stays in Vegas…’ Excess, Influence, and the New Business of Art.” Public Lecture for KPU Arts Speaker Series. Surrey BC Canada. January 16, 2019.
  • “What Can Artists and Filmmakers Teach Us About Scientific Visualization?” KPU and Science World Speaker Series. Vancouver BC. Canada. October 13, 2016.
  • "Emancipating Genius" TEDxKPU Speaker. Melville Centre for Dialogue, Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Richmond, BC. Canada. September 27, 2014.
  • SFU Philosopher’s Café Moderator for three sessions in Spring 2012: “Is there a role for the artist in social and political protest movements?” (February 1); “Is contemporary art intrinsically political?” (February 29); “What constitutes a broader definition of public art?” (March 28). Vancouver, BC. Canada.
  • Public Lecture and Tour of Exhibition, “Goya: The Disasters of War and Los Caprichos” held in connection with Art of Peace 2012 Symposium, The Reach Gallery Museum. Abbotsford, B.C. Canada. February 4, 2012.
  • “What is….19th Century Parisian Art and Culture?” Vancouver Art Gallery. Vancouver, BC. Canada. (Workshop to coincide with exhibition The Modern Woman: Drawings by Degas, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec and Other Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris). July 10, 2010
  • “Looking at the Painting of Modern Life.” Vancouver Art Gallery. Vancouver, BC. Canada. (Lecture to coincide with exhibition Monet to Dali: Modern Masters from the Cleveland Museum of Art). June 24, 2007.
  • “McLuhan, Smithson, and the Site of Photography” Alberta College of Art and Design. Calgary, AB. Canada. November 7, 2006.