Illustration and Its Histories:
New Resources, New Voices, New Directions


Symposium Information

Zoom Webinar (online)
Friday, March 27, 2020
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Watch the Symposium

You can also access the complete video coverage for the Symposium on the Norman Rockwell Museum YouTube Channel.

Image © Edel Rodriguez. All rights reserved.

Supported in part by the Richard and Mary Kelly Family Fund.

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Organized by the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies at the Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and the Department of Art and Art History at Hunter College, New York City, this one-day interdisciplinary online symposium brings together scholars, curators, and artists who are exploring new approaches to the study of illustration within historical and contemporary frameworks.

As a set of practices and a cultural force, illustration emerged in the 19th century as a new and distinctly modern phenomenon. A vital component of the visual languages of advertising, design, publishing, and entertainment, illustration is omnipresent in modern culture, yet its historical and theoretical specifics have remained relatively unexamined. This symposium aims to bring together researchers and practitioners across multiple fields who are interested in the history, practice, and subjects of illustration, and who want to contribute to the emerging field of illustration studies.

The theme of the symposium’s morning panel on immigration and migration in illustrating is inspired by the Norman Rockwell Museum’s current exhibition, Finding Home: Four Artists’ Stories.

For further information, please contact Jana Purdy at

Symposium Schedule

Download a copy of the Symposium Schedule.

Download a copy of the Symposium Panelists’ biographies.

Welcome and Opening Remarks from Stephanie Plunkett, Deputy Director/Chief Curator, Norman Rockwell Museum, and Michael Lobel, Professor of Art History, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY

  • Chair — Michael Lobel
  • Speaker — Karen Fang, University of Houston
    Background Artist: Art and Immigration in the Life and Work of Tyrus Wong
  • Speaker — Lara Saguisag, College of Staten Island, CUNY
    Framed by Migrant Labor: Filipino Illustrators and the U.S. Comics Industry
  • Speaker — Edel Rodriguez, Award-winning illustrator, designer, and fine artist
  • Chair — Susanna Cole, Hunter College, CUNY
  • Speaker — Julia Hamer-Light, University of Delaware
    Perilous Print Culture: Speed and Stability in the Lithographs of  The Awful Conflagration of the Steamboat Lexington, 1840
  • Speaker — Rebecca Szantyr, Brown University
    Visualizing Difference: Race, Illustration, and The Cries of New York in Antebellum America
  • Speaker — Marina Wells, Boston University
    From Book to Bone: The Lives of “Female Pirate” Illustrations

Enjoy archival Famous Artists School publicity clips from the Norman Rockwell Museum Archival Collections, c. 1950s

  • Chair — Stephanie Haboush Plunkett, Norman Rockwell Museum
  • Speakers — Kim Conaty and Farris Wahbeh, Whitney Museum of American Art
  • Speakers — Jonathan Weinberg, Maurice Sendak Foundation, and Clara Nguyen, University of Connecticut Library
  • Speaker — Laura Fravel, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
  • Chair — Michael Lobel
  • Speaker — Taylor Dow, Washington University in St. Louis Flipping Through Forty Fathom Friends
  • Speaker — Rachel High, Hunter College, CUNY Popular Publishing: Harry N. Abrams’ Role in Illustration Scholarship and Public Perception
  • Speaker — Marco Polo Juarez Cruz, University of Maryland A Half-Silvered Mirror to Look at Harlem: Ambiguities in Covarrubias’ Representation of the ‘New Negro’