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Hannah Ryan

Ph.D. Student in History of Art


A Doctoral Candidate in Visual Studies, Hannah Ryan researches representations of women and children within the visual and literary culture of the Transatlantic. Through a decolonial and feminist approach, her dissertation is a socio-political history of infant feeding in the Americas told through visual culture, situating breastmilk as a substance of particular value. Her work is informed by theories of labor, domesticity, consumption, and resistance, and is inherently interdisciplinary, crossing into economics, feminism and gender studies, medical history, and beyond. Hannah holds a B.F.A. (magna cum laude), B.A. (magna cum laude), and M.A. from the University of Colorado, and has held positions at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, The Norton Museum of Art, and the Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell. She has curated exhibitions of contemporary female artists, including Ana Mendieta in Exile: Selected Films, for which she wrote the accompanying catalogue, and Coco Fusco, Empty Plaza. She has contributed sections to Ananda Cohen Aponte’s book Paintings of Colonial Cusco, a chapter to an edited collection of interdisciplinary research on milk published by Bloomsbury Academic, and a chapter on the midwife-witch in an edited volume on Villains. She represented Cornell at the 2015 Institute of Fine Arts / Frick Symposium, and has given papers at Princeton, McGill, the University of Colorado, and the University of Michigan. She was invited to participate in an international workshop on milk, co-hosted by SOAS University of London and École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. At Cornell, she has been the Instructor of Record for courses on tourism as neocolonialism, the recurrent visual motif of women’s literacy, and dangerous women. Hannah was awarded the 2017-18 American Association of University Women Dissertation Fellowship and named an AAUW Fellow.



  • History of Art and Visual Studies