• Ph.D. (Cultural Analysis), Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis, Theory and Interpretation, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • M.A. (Canadian Art History), School for Studies in Art and Culture, Carleton University, Ottawa
  • B.F.A. (Photography and Art History), University of Saskatchewan

Professional memberships

  • IDEC (Interior Design Educators Council)
  • AAH (Association of Art Historians, U.K.)
  • UAAC/AAUC (University Art Association of Canada)


  • Senior Fellow, St. John’s College, University of Manitoba
  • Research Affiliate, Centre for Human Rights, University of Manitoba
  • MAWA (Mentoring Women for Women’s Art)

Research interests

  • Photography and the Built Environment
  • Identity
  • Gender
  • Visual Culture
  • Critical Theory
  • Social Activism and Design


Dr. Susan Close is an Associate Professor in the Interior Design Dept. of the Faculty of Architecture and a Senior Fellow at St. John’s College, both at the University of Manitoba. She teaches interdisciplinary courses on theory, history and photography in both the graduate and undergraduate programs.  She received her doctoral degree from the University of Amsterdam in 2005. Her book, Framing Identity: Social Practices of Photography in Canada (1880-1920) was published by  Arbeiter Ring Publishing in 2007. This study was supported by a Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) doctoral fellowship. This book was short listed for three Manitoba Book Awards.

Dr. Close has lectured on her research at Carleton University, University of Ottawa, University of Manitoba and the National Gallery of Canada. Her research has also been published in numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. She has presented numerous papers at history, art history and design conferences internationally.

Her community involvement includes coordinating visual literacy programs using photography as a communication tool for Inter-city schools in Ottawa. She has also acted twice as a mentor for Mentoring Artists for Women Art (MAWA), a Winnipeg based arts organization. Dr. Close was invited to give the 5th Annual Wendy Wersch Memorial lecture for MAWA. In addition, she has given public lectures on issues of representation at venues such as Platform Gallery in Winnipeg. She has also served as a juror for the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Manitoba Arts Council.

As an independent curator, Dr. Close has curated exhibitions for Library and Archives Canada, the City of Ottawa and Gallery 111, Ottawa as well as the Faculty of Architecture Gallery at the University of Manitoba. Her own photographic work has been shown in Canada and Europe and features in the collections of the Canada Council Art Bank, the City of Ottawa and the Ottawa Carleton Region, The Photographers Gallery and the Mendel Art Gallery. She has received a number of grants from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Saskatchewan Arts Board.

Dr. Close was awarded the Carl Nelson Jr. Teaching Award by the Faculty of Architecture, University of Manitoba in 2010. Her current teaching includes interdisciplinary courses on design theory and history as well as photography and the built environment.

Current teaching

IDES 7180 Theory Seminar 1: Contemporary Issues in Design
IDES 7190 Theory Seminar 2: Critical Perspectives
EVIE 4000 History and Theory 2
IDES 7270 Travelling Concepts in Photography

Web links related to student course work:
Travelling Concepts Expo 7270: Montreal & Ottawa (IDES 7270)
Abroad: Winter 2015 (EVIE 4000)
The Chair Project: Winter 2018 (EVIE 4000)

Research and publications

Dr. Close’s book Framing Identity: Social Practice of Photography in Canada (1880-1920) (Arbeiter Ring Publishing 2007) addressed how Canadian women at the turn of the twentieth century used photography as a social practice to establish identity. This study takes into account key concepts and practices drawn from cultural analysis and issues related to identity, gender, post-colonialism, tourism and travel as a way to analyze her subject matter.

Dr. Close is currently working on a new book on photography and the built environment. For details on the book and the related Undergraduate Research Award student mentorship see: Photography and the Built Environment: the summer research project,

Selected publications

Close, Susan. Framing Identity: Social Practices of Photography in Canada, 1880-1920. Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Press, 2007.

Chapters in Books
Close, Susan. “Gendered Space and the Photographic Interiors of A Victorian Lady.” In Meanings of Designed Spaces, edited by Tiiu Vaikla- Poldma, New York: Fairchild Books, 2013

Close, Susan. “The Camera and the Contact Zone: Re-envisioning the Representation of Aboriginal Women in the Canadian North.” In Transculturation in British Art, 1770-1930, edited by Julie Codell, Farnham, Surrey, UK: Ashgate Publishers, 2012.

Close, Susan. “ Photography and Design Culture: Reading Photographs by Alain Paiement and Richard Holden.” In Eighty-Eight: Mieke Bal PhDs 1983-2011, edited by Murat Aydemir and Esther Peeren, Amsterdam: ASCA Press, 2011.

Chalmers, Lynn and Susan Close. “But is it Interior Design: Considering the intervention of theory into disciplinary practice and education.” In Thinking Inside the Box, edited by Edward Hollis et al, pp.77-83, London: Middlesex University, 2007.

Articles in Academic or Professional Journals
Close, Susan. “Writing Rooms: Reconsidering a room of one’s own.” Journal of Interior Design, Volume 43, Issue 1 (March 2018): 43-52.

Close, Susan. “Framing in Place: Photography and Design Culture in Canada,” Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Common Ground Publishers, Chicago Illinois, (2010) Volume 4, Issue 2, pp.69-82.

Book Reviews, Encyclopedia Entries, Exhibition Catalogue Essays and Comments in Journals

Book Reviews
Close, Susan. Review of Desire Change, Contemporary Feminist Art in Canada, Heather Davis ed., Montreal & Kingston: McGill University Press and Winnipeg: Mentoring Artists of Women’s Art, 2017, Border Crossings, Volume 36. Number 4, Issue 144 (2017-18):123-124.

Close, Susan. Review of Towards a New Interior: An Anthology of Interior Design Theory, Lois Weinthal, ed. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2011” Interiors: Design, Architecture and Culture, vol. 4.3 published by Bloomsbury Publishers, London, 2013.

Close, Susan. Review of Scissors, Paper, Stone: Expressions of Memory in Contemporary Photographic Arts, by Martha Langford. Border Crossings, Volume 27, No.3, Issue 107, (2009): 194-196. (invited) 

Close, Susan. Review of Suspended Conversations: The Afterlife of Memory in Photographic Albums, RACAR, Canadian Art Review XXVIII, 2003.

Exhibition catalogue essays
Close, Susan. “Mattie Gunterman” The Artist Herself: Self-Portraits by Canadian Historical Women Artists, Alicia Boutilier and Tobi Bruce (eds), Kingston: Agnes Etherington Art Centre, (2015). pp. 69-73.

Encyclopedia Entries
Close, Susan. “History of Photography in Manitoba,” In The Encyclopedia of Manitoba, edited by Ingeborg  Boyens, Regina: Great Plains Publisher, (2006): 531-532.

Exhibition Reviews
Close, Susan. “ Aboriginal Portraits from the National Archives of Canada,” Archivara 42, Association of Canadian Archivists, Toronto, (1996): 148-150.

Articles in Periodicals
Close, Susan. “ Reading Photographs: Playing the Visual Literacy Game,” CV Photo 52, (2000): 5-6.

Close, Susan. “The Hidden Camera of Kryn Taconis” Queens Quarterly 103/1 (Spring 1996) Kingston: The Quarterly Committee of Queen’s University, pp.62-72.

Close, Susan. “Mattie Gunterman’s Family Album,” Queens Quarterly 103/2, (Summer 1996) Kingston: The Quarterly Committee of Queen’s University, pp.317-339.

Close, Susan. “Victory Spring: Images of Courage in the National Archives of Canada.” The Archivist 109, (1995): 32-38. (invited)

Reviews of publications
Dahle, Sigrid. Review of Framing Identity: Social Practices of Photography in Canada (1880-1920), by Susan Close. Border Crossings, Volume 27, No.2, Issue 106 (2008): 103-104.

Bouzek, Don. Review of Review of Framing Identity: Social Practices of Photography in Canada (1880-1920), by Susan Close. Labour/Le Travail, Journal of Canadian Labour Studies, Issue 62, (2008): 240-242.

Recent conference presentations

Close, Susan. “Reconsidering Geraldine Moodie:  Positioning an early Canadian photographer in relationship to Modernism,” Paper presented virtually at Modernisms, Inside and Out, The Fourth Conference of Canadian Women Artist History Initiative Concordia University, Montreal in collaboration with the Art Gallery of Ontario, McMichael Gallery and Ryerson University, Toronto, September 30 to October 2, 2021.

Creative work

Dr. Close is also a practicing photographer with work held in national and international collections.

For creative work and research see: