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Charissa Terranova

Charissa Terranova

Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair in Art and Aesthetic Studies
Professor of Art and Architectural History, Modern and Contemporary

Charissa N. Terranova is an environmental humanist reframing art and architectural history in the age of the Anthropocene, the geological epoch of human-driven climate change.


Professional Preparation

Ph.D. - Architectural History and Theory
Harvard University - 2004
M.A. - Architectural History and Theory
Harvard University - 2001
M.A. - Art History
University of Illinois at Chicago - 1996
B.A. - Art History
University of Tennessee, Knoxville - 1992

Research Areas

Biotechne: Interthinking Art, Science, and Design
Coedited book series at Bloomsbury
D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson's Generative Influences in Art, Design, and Architecture From Forces to Forms (2021)
New anthology about Scottish zoologist D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson coedited with Ellen K. Levy
Art as Organism: Biology and the Evolution of the Digital Image (2016)
Monograph about the role of biology in the development of the digital image in art.
The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture (2016)
An anthology of text coedited with Meredith Tromble about biology in the history, theory, and practice of art and architecture.
Automotive Prosthetic: Technological Mediation and the Car in Conceptual Art (2014)
A new media perspective on conceptual art.
A special issue of Technoetic Arts on “complexism” (2016)
This is an edited issue of the journal Technoetic Arts devoted to thinking about art and architecture in terms of "complexism.";jsessionid=328b4bkvdqnqk.x-ic-live-01


“Curating the Cybernetic: The Brief Collaboration of György Kepes and Marshall McLuhan.” Forthcoming in Against Crisis, Then and Now: McLuhan, with Kepes and Tyrwhitt. Jaqueline McLeod Rogers, Ed. Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang International Academic Press, 2024.  2024 - publications
Charissa N. Terranova. “Bacterial Politics: Autonomy, Autopoiesis, Bioart,” Antennae. No. 59 (November 2022) 24-38. 2022 - publications
“Systems and Automatisms: Jack Burnham, Stanley Cavell, and the Dialectic of Contemporary Art,” forthcoming in Leonardo spring 2014 2014 - Publication
Automotive Prosthetic: Conceptual Art, The Car, and Technological Mediation, 1951- Present, forthcoming fall 2013 from the University of Texas Press 2013 - Publication
“The Scarcity Aesthetic: Art, Design, and Population when Systems Fail,” Proceedings of  the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, 101st Annual Meeting. March 2013. 2013 - Publication
The Scarcity Aesthetic: Art, Design, and Population when Systems Fail, submitted for inclusion in an edited volume, edited by George Sochan and published through Cambridge Scholars Publishing, winter 2013 2013 - Publication
“Hummer: The Cultural Militarism of Art Based on the SUV,” forthcoming in Inside Mobility (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012). 2012 - Publication
Haptic Unconscious: A Prehistory of Affectivity in Moholy-Nagys Pedagogy at the New Bauhaus. Touch and Go issue of Leonardo Electronic Almanac. Eds.,Irini Papadimitriou and Jonathan Munro. (2012) Vol. 18, No. 3: 226-237. 2012 - Publication


Organic Modernism: from the British Bauhaus to Cybernetics (Bloomsbury, forthcoming)
Terranova's new book, Organic Modernism: from the British Bauhaus to Cybernetics (Bloomsbury, 2024), breaks ground in the transdisciplinary study of "organicism," the holistic idea maintaining the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It is a history of British organicist artists, scientists, and designers cooperating in various capacities from the Great Depression and WW II to postwar cybernetics and the global disaggregated collective. It follows the red thread of philosophical organicism in the twentieth century through a host of manifestations in the UK, including modern architecture, surrealism, socialism, the welfare state, epigenetics, biology-based art exhibitions, robotic art and design, cybernetics and ecology in art. A sequel to Terranova's Art as Organism: Biology and the Evolution of the Digital Image (Bloomsbury, 2022 [2016]), Organic Modernism reveals the biological roots of cybernetics in the British context. 


Visual Cultures of Race and Science
Terranova organized The Visual Cultures of Race and Science (February 6-7, 2022) at the University of Texas at Dallas. Sponsored by the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies, UT Dallas School of Arts and Humanities, the Edith O'Donnell Institute of Art History, this symposium explored how the language and images of the natural sciences shaped and substantiated ideological and inaccurate ideas about "race." Speakers included Anna Arabindan-Kesson, Duana Fullwiley, Linda Kim, Eben Kirksey, and Terranova.

Additional Information

VPAS 7380 Organic Modernism
VPAS 7380 Art, Nature, and the Machine
VPAS 7380 Charles Darwin and the Evolution of Beauty
AHST 3318 Art and the History of Nature: Prehistory to Contemporary Art (formerly AHST 3318 Contemporary Art)
AHST 3322 Modern Architecture
AHST 4342 New Media Art Histories
AHST 3318 Contemporary Art
AHST 2331 Understanding Art
Harvard, PhD, Architectural Theory and History, 2004
Harvard, MA, Architectural Theory and History, 2001
University of IL, Chicago, MA , Art History, 2001
University of TN, BA, Art History, 1992
Publications during sabbatical 2022-23
While on sabbatical 2022-23, Terranova was busy writing essays in addition to the book. In fall 2022, she published "Bacterial Politics: Autonomy, Autopoiesis, Bioart" in Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Culture, the British journal for contemporary art and the natural sciences. Edited by Ken Rinaldo, this issue explores "microbial ecologies" in the art-and-science practices of several contemporary bioartists. Click here to find out more and download a free copy of this beautiful, innovative, and insightful journal. Terranova also recently published "Hannah and Joe: Interspecies Art between Bird and Man" at Interalia Magazine and Leonardo Reviews. Other forthcoming essays include "Semblance of Mindful Intent: Agency and Feedback in the Artwork of Ian Ingram" (Beall Center for Art + Technology, UC Irvine) and "Curating the Cybernetic: The Brief Collaboration of György Kepes and Marshall McLuhan" in Against Crisis, Then and Now: McLuhan with Kepes and Tyrwhitt (Peter Lang, 2024), ed. Jaqueline McLeod Rogers.

News Articles

Charissa Terranova Named Director of Central Track: The UT Dallas Artists Residency
An internationally known scholar of modern and contemporary art and architecture, Dr. Charissa Terranova, , has been named both director of Central Track: The UT Dallas Artists Residency and assistant professor of aesthetic studies in the School of Arts & Humanities at The University of Texas at Dallas.  

An experimental endeavor, the artists residency at UT Dallas was founded in collaboration with South Side on Lamar in 2001.  It was the first program of its kind in North Texas, modeled after such prestigious residencies as the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Artpace in San Antonio and the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas.