Virginia Reynolds Badgett

Virginia Reynolds Badgett
Graduate Student


Areas of Concentration: Nineteenth- and twentieth-century American Art, decorative arts, design and material culture; museum studies; curatorial practice
Faculty Advisor: E. Bruce Robertson
Committee Members: Jenni Sorkin, Ann Jensen Adams
Dissertation: "Robert Henri's Women: Art, Individuality and Influence"
M.A. Thesis: "Slaves to Fashion, Not Society: Elizabeth Keckly and Washington, D.C.’s African American Dressmakers, 1860-1870" (Cooperstown Graduate Program, SUNY–Oneonta, completed 2011)


Virginia Reynolds Badgett is a fifth-year Ph.D. Candidate focusing on art of the United States until 1955. An interdisciplinary cultural historian, Virginia is most interested in the representation of race, class and gender, and how these historical and cultural constructs manifest themselves in our material world. Her dissertation explores the twentieth-century construction of American “individuality” across Robert Henri (1865 – 1929)’s portraits of women who defied the social and cultural conventions of the 1910s: Emma Goldman, Mary Fanton Roberts, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and Ruth St. Denis.

A John C. Young Scholar, Virginia earned her bachelor’s degree in history from Centre College in 2009. After receiving her M.A. with distinction in history museum studies at the Cooperstown Graduate Program, she worked as the Curatorial Assistant for the Curatorial Division at the Detroit Institute of Arts from 2011-2014. Most recently, she served as an editing assistant for the “Woman of Impact” initiative, co-sponsored by and AD&A Museum, and was the inaugural Abert Family Curatorial Fellow for American Art at the Milwaukee Art Museum in summer 2018.

Virginia’s publications include “Slaves to Fashion, Not Society: Elizabeth Keckly and Washington, D.C.’s African American Dressmakers, 1860 -1870” (Washington History, Fall 2014), a review of the exhibition Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957 (Panorama, Fall 2016) and catalogue entries in American Beauty and Bounty (Crocker Art Museum, 2018). She is the recipient of a Department Mallory Fellowship, Pre-ABD and Post-ABD Travel Awards, and a Humanities and Social Sciences Research Grant. For the 2018 – 2019 academic year, Virginia is a Humanities and Research Fellow - UCSB’s Graduate Division.