Associate Professor of History, Director of the Public History Program
Ph.D., Yale University, 1999
Areas of specialization: 20th Century U.S. cultural history; consumer culture, the history of the built environment; public history
Catherine Gudis is Director of the Public History Program at UCR and teaches classes in public history and 20th century U.S. history, building on her twin interests in modern consumer culture and cultural and urban constructions of race, space, and place. She received her B.A. in Philosophy from Smith College and Ph.D. in American Studies (with distinction) from Yale University, where she also won the Yale Teaching Prize. Professor Gudis is the author of Buyways: Billboards, Automobiles, and the American Cultural Landscape (Routledge, 2004), which traces the relationship between automobility, advertising, and the commercialization of the urban environment. She has contributed to and edited Cultures of Commerce: Representations of Business Culture in the United States (coedited with Elspeth Brown and Marina Moskowitz, Palgrave/MacMillan, 2006) and museum books on art and culture, including Lions and Eagles and Bulls: Early American Inn & Tavern Signs (Princeton, 2001), Ray Johnson: Correspondences (coedited with Donna DeSalvo, Flammarion, 2000), Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s (Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1990), Oehlen Williams (Wexner Center, Ohio State, 1999), and A Forest of Signs: Art in the Age of Representation (MIT, 1989).
Professor Gudis’s recent articles in History and Technology (2010), Blackwell Companion to California History (2008), and The Transformation of Public Culture: Assessing the Politics of Diversity, Democracy, and Community in the United States (2008)address the construction of place identity in California through art and visual culture and the relationship of marketing and mobility to urban sprawl. Current research towards her next book, tentatively entitled Curating the City: The Framing of Los Angeles, explores the ways in which public art, performance, and history can help frame and socially activate urban space and place in Southern California. Another, future book project, entitled To Market, To Market: Global Cultures of Distribution, addresses the history and impact of product distribution on the cultural landscape.
For over twenty years, Professor Gudis has worked as a curator, consultant, and editor to art and history museums and in the field of historic preservation. Her public history work includes curatorial consulting for the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum’s permanent exhibition of Southern California history (opening 2012); a collaboration with the City of Riverside Metropolitan Museum and Historic Preservation Office on a National Register of Historic Places thematic survey and historic district related to race and civil liberties, focused particularly on the experiences of Japanese and Japanese Americans (2010-present); a survey for the City of Riverside Community Development Department of the historically working-class, multiethnic Eastside community and the labor and cultural issues of the adjacent citrus industry (2010-present); contributions to the historic context statement for SurveyLA for the City of Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources and the Getty Conservation Institute (2007-10); and serving as a chair of the Board of the Studio for Southern California History (2010-present). Prior to joining the faculty at UCR, Professor Gudis served as Director of Education at the Los Angeles Conservancy, where she completed a large-scale, multimedia project entitled “Curating the City” as well as other public programs, historic tours, publications for children and adults, and fundraising events. Her work for museums includes advising the Society for California Pioneers in San Francisco on the construction of a new history museum, for which she also curated the inaugural exhibition, “’Kiss of the Oceans’: Commerce and Culture at the 1915 World’s Fair”; serving as an advisor to the Los Angeles Poverty Department’s Skid Row History Museum; and freelancing as a Curatorial and Publications Consultant for institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Wexner Center for the Arts, Whitney Museum of American Art, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Cooper Union (New York), Connecticut Historical Society, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (Rotterdam), and Person’s Weekend Museum (Tokyo).
Through her work in public history and 20th century U.S. history, Professor Gudis builds upon her interest in consumer culture, visual culture, and the history of the built environment. She is especially interested in the urban and cultural history of Southern California as well as modes of public culture related to museums, art, performance, and preservation.
- Theory and Methods of Visual and Material Culture Studies
- Theory and Methods of Public Culture, History, and Memory
- Historic Preservation Seminar and Practicum
- Coordinating Historic Preservation and Museum Studies Practicum, Conservation
- 20th Century Research Seminar in Southern California History
- Modern U.S. Consumer Culture
- U.S., 1914-1945
- 20th Century History Senior Seminars as well as those on Advertising and Mass Media and other topics in cultural history
- Themes and Personalities in U.S. History