In his research, Joseph Litts focuses on early American and imperial British and French art of the long eighteenth century. He is particularly interested in materiality, theories of portraiture, visual culture, works on paper, the relationship between aesthetics and Empire, and European depictions of Native Americans. Joseph earned his master of arts from the University of Delaware, where his thesis, Materials, the Body, Race, and Gregor Brandmüller’s Les Quatre Parties du Monde (1688) in the Early Modern Franco-Swiss Atlantic World, asks how allegorical figures of the four continents acted as fetishes to merge bodies and luxury objects as part of the French Académie’s quest to visually articulate and thus naturalize colonial expansion. Prior research projects have examined European collections of Cherokee baskets, portraits of Cherokee leaders, “impossible” images of the Antarctic, and eco-critical readings of John Hesselius’s Virginia portraits. His curatorial practice has focused largely on late nineteenth and early twentieth century Southern American artists, particularly women printmakers and ceramics. The recipient of a Havner curatorial fellowship at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Joseph has also worked at the Georgia Museum of Art and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
“Weaving Together War and Memory in Isaac Vincent’s Cherokee Basket,” in Material Georgia (Athens: Georgia Museum of Art, 2020).