Faculty & Staff

Liesl Olson (Co-Director, Art and Public Culture)

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Liesl Olson is Director of Chicago Studies at the Newberry library.  Born in Düsseldorf, Germany, Olson grew up in Kansas City, Missouri and graduated  from Stanford University.  She received her doctorate in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University in New York City, and then taught at the University of Chicago as a Harper-Schmidt Fellow.  She has received fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Newberry library.  Olson has written widely on twentieth-century literature and art, including her first book, Modernism and the Ordinary (2009) and her most recent book Chicago Renaissance: Literature and Art in the Midwest Metropolis (2017).  In 2013 and 2017, Olson directed the NEH summer institute Making Modernism: Literature and Culture in Twentieth-Century Chicago, 1893-1955.

Rebecca Zorach (Co-Director, Art and Public Culture)

ZorachRebecca Zorach is the Mary Jane Crowe Professor in Art and Art History at Northwestern University. She teaches and writes on early modern European art, contemporary activist art, and art of the 1960s and 1970s. Particular interests include print media, feminist and queer theory, theory of representation, the Black Arts Movement, and the multiple intersections of art and politics. Her books include The Passionate Triangle (2011), Blood, Milk, Ink, Gold: Abundance and Excess in the French Renaissance (2005). She co-edited The Wall of Respect: Public Art and Black Liberation in 1960s Chicago (2017) with Abdul Alkalimat and Romi Crawford.

Chad Heap (Co-Director, Art and Public Culture)

WGSS Program, Women's Gender Sexuality Studies

Chad Heap is Associate Professor of American Studies at The George Washington University. An historian of American sexuality and urban culture, he is the author of Slumming: Sexual and Racial Encounters in American Nightlife, 1885-1940 (2009). His current research focuses on the making of sexual knowledge in Chicago and on the visual representation of New York’s Prohibition-era interracial, social, sexual and artistic circles. He has also served as a curator, consultant or advisor for exhibitions and related programming at the University of Chicago Library, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the Chicago History Museum, and the Newberry Library.

Davarian L. Baldwin (Visiting Faculty)

BaldwinDavarian L. Baldwin is the Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He is the author of Chicago’s New Negroes: Modernity, the Great Migration, and Black Urban Life (2007) and co-editor (with Minkah Makalani) of the essay collection, Escape From New York: The New Negro Renaissance beyond Harlem (2013). Baldwin is currently finishing two new single-authored projects, Land of Darkness: Chicago and the Making of Race in Modern America (Oxford University Press) and UniverCities: How Higher Education is Transforming Urban America. He is working on a number of Chicago art-related projects for WTTW-PBS, the Chicago Cultural Center, and the Smart Museum.

Adam Green (Visiting Faculty)

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Adam Green is Associate Professor of American History at the University of Chicago.  He teaches and research in a variety of fields, including twentieth century U.S. history, African American history, urban history, cultural studies and social movements. He has written and co-edited two books: Selling the Race: Culture and Community in Black Chicago, 1940-1955 (2006); Time Longer than Rope: Studies in African American Activism, 1850-1950, co- edited with Charles Payne (2003).  His current book research deals with the history of the black struggle for happiness, and he is developing several articles projects dealing with segregation, police torture, and post-1970 culture and society in Black Chicago

Nicole Marroquin (Visiting Faculty)

NicoleGolden_cropNicole Marroquin is an interdisciplinary artist, researcher and teacher educator whose current research looks at Chicago school uprisings between 1967-74. She has recently been an artist in-residence at the Chicago Cultural Center, with the Propeller Fund at Mana Contemporary, at Watershed, Ragdale, ACRE and Oxbow. In 2017 she presented her art and research at the Hull House Museum, Northwestern University and the Museum of Contemporary Art. In 2015, Marroquin was invited to present research at the University of Chicago in conjunction with the exhibit The City Lost and Found: Capturing New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, 1960-1980 and at the Art Institute of Chicago for the symposium The Wall of Respect and People’s Art Since 1967.  She was a Joan Mitchell Fellow at the Center for Racial Justice Innovation in 2014, and she received the Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz Women of Excellence Award in 2011 for her work in her community. She received an MFA from the University of Michigan in 2008 and she is Associate Professor in the Department of Art Education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Bradford Hunt (Newberry Faculty)


D. Bradford Hunt is the Vice President for Research and Academic Programs at the Newberry. He is the co-author, with Jon B. DeVries, of Planning Chicago (2013), which examines urban planning initiatives in Chicago since the 1950s. His history of the Chicago Housing Authority, entitled Blueprint for Disaster: The Unraveling of Chicago Public Housing (University of Chicago Press, 2009), won the Lewis Mumford Prize from the Society of American City and Regional Planning History (SACRPH) for the best book in North American Planning History in 2008-09. He will serve as president of SACRPH in 2018-19. Prior to the Newberry, he was a vice provost and dean at Roosevelt University, where he was also professor of social science and history. He received his PhD in history from the University of California, Berkeley, and his BA from Williams College.

Martha Briggs (Newberry Faculty)

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Martha Briggs is Lloyd Lewis Curator of Modern Manuscripts at the Newberry. More than 800 manuscript and archival collections dating from around 1700 to the present fall under her jurisdiction. The collections include three railroad corporate archives, the Midwest Manuscript Collection, the Midwest Dance Collection, the Ayer Modern Manuscript Collection, and the Newberry Library’s own institutional archives. She is a graduate of Brown University, and holds master’s degrees in history and library science from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Columbia University.



Image:  Ernest Martin, “Debussy” (c. 1930s); Ann Barzel Dance Research Collection.