Dr. Dora Apel

Dora Apel

  • Professor Emerita, Modern and Contemporary Art History

Biography

Dora Apel is a cultural critic and art historian whose work focuses on issues of trauma, memory, national identity, globalization, and the ruins of capitalism. She grew up in an immigrant community as the daughter of Holocaust survivors and is interested in the power of visual imagery to stimulate ethical thinking. Her most recent book, Calling Memory into Place (September 2020), is a deeply personal work that considers how memory can be mobilized for social justice; it examines the way memorials, photographs, artworks, and personal stories can be used to fuel a process of cultural and political “unforgetting” by reinterpreting the past or bringing to light what has been repressed or forgotten.

Her other books include Beautiful Terrible Ruins: Detroit and the Anxiety of Decline; War Culture and the Contest of ImagesImagery of Lynching: Black Men, White Women, and the MobMemory Effects: The Holocaust and the Art of Secondary Witnessing; and Lynching Photographs (co-authored with Shawn Michelle Smith).

Apel's work is also published in Jacobin, The Brooklyn RailArt Bulletin, Art Journal, Oxford Art Journal, New German Critique, American Quarterly, Dissent, Journal of Visual Culture, Mississippi Quarterly, Left History, and Theory & Event; in the online journals Essay'dOpenDemocracy, Dissent and Other Voices, and in exhibition catalogs such as The Color Line: Les Artistes Africain-Americain et la Segregation (Musee de quai Branly-Paris). 

“Ruin Imagery and the Cultural Work It Performs: In Conversation with Dora Apel,” was published in Detroit Cultural and a two-part interview on Beautiful Terrible Ruins was published in Mediapolis.

She has contributed chapters to edited volumes, including the essay "Thirsty Cities: Who Owns the Right to Water?" published in The Routledge Companion to Urban Imaginaries, and essays in Representations of Pain in Art and Visual CultureViolence and Visibility in Modern History , The Oxford Handbook of Holocaust StudiesWhat Is Radical Politics Today?, and Visual Culture and The Holocaust . Her work has been reprinted in journals such as Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art and edited volumes such as The Uncertain States of America Reader and Krzysztof Wodiczko. She is the editor or co-editor of ten exhibition catalogs for Cranbrook Art Museum.

For access to more articles, see www.researchgate.net or www.academia.edu.

She is the W. Hawkins Ferry Endowed Chair Professor Emerita of Modern and Contemporary Art History. In 2017 she was elected a lifetime member of the WSU Academy of Scholars.She received her PhD. in Art History and PhD. Certificate in Cultural Studies from the University of Pittsburgh.