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Dorothy Barenscott BA (UBC), Dip. Art History (UBC), MA (UBC), PhD (UBC)

Surrey Office: 
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