President Designate, Stony Brook
Maurie McInnis is the president designate for Stony Brook University. She previously served as the executive vice president and provost at The University of Texas at Austin. As a faculty member, she holds dual appointments in the Department of American Studies and the Department of Art and Art History. She also holds the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities.
McInnis’ main research interest is in the cultural history of American Art in the colonial and antebellum South. Her work has focused on the relationship between art and politics in early America, especially focused on the politics of slavery.
American Studies in the World Today Keynote Address
Austin, TX, November 3, 2016
McInnis’ lecture addresses the role that historical scholarship can play in public conversations about race today by discussing two projects in Virginia that seek to make visible the history of enslavement where it had been previously erased from the landscape.
Recent Academic Work
From the University of Virginia’s very inception, slavery was deeply woven into its fabric. Enslaved people first helped to construct and then later lived in the Academical Village; they raised and prepared food, washed clothes, cleaned privies, and chopped wood. They maintained the buildings, cleaned classrooms, and served as personal servants to faculty and students. At any given time, there were typically more than one hundred enslaved people residing alongside the students, faculty, and their families. The central paradox at the heart of UVA is also that of the nation: What does it mean to have a public university established to preserve democratic rights that is likewise founded and maintained on the stolen labor of others?
In Educated in Tyranny (University of Virginia in 2019), Maurie D. McInnis, Louis Nelson, and a group of contributing authors tell the largely unknown story of slavery at the University of Virginia. While UVA has long been celebrated as fulfilling Jefferson’s desire to educate citizens to lead and govern, McInnis and Nelson document the burgeoning political rift over slavery as Jefferson tried to protect southern men from anti-slavery ideas in northern institutions. In uncovering this history, Educated in Tyranny changes how we see the university during its first fifty years and understand its history hereafter.
Other Academic Works
Other essays have focused on the politics of representing political figures. Essays on “Revisiting Cincinnatus: Houdon’s George Washington,” and “George Washington: Cincinnatus or Marcus Aurelius,” have focused on sculptural representation of Washington and “The Most Famous Plantation of All: The Politics of Painting Mount Vernon,” centered on the numerous painted representations of Washington’s plantation during the 1850s. Forthcoming in a new volume from Yale University Press, is an essay on Richmond’s equestrian monuments: “ ‘To Strike Terror’: Equestrian Monuments and Southern Power.”
Much of her early work was focused on the material culture of Charleston including the exhibition catalogue, In Pursuit of Refinement: Charlestonians Abroad, 1740-1860 (1999) and the book, The Politics of Taste in Antebellum Charleston(2005) which won the George C. Rogers Jr. award from the South Carolina Historical Society and the Spiro Kostof Book Award from the Society of Architectural Historians. Essays on topics ranging from colonial portraiture to neoclassical furniture have appeared in Winterthur Portfolio, American Furniture, American Art, and Historical Archaeology.