Dr Elisa deCourcy

BA (Hons. I) PhD
Research Fellow (DECRA), Centre for Art History and Art Theory, Research School of Humanities and the Arts
College of Arts and Social Sciences

Research interests

Nineteenth and early twentieth-century photography, particularly systems of photographic transmission, and photography's creation and consumption alongside other media and modes of portraiture. 


Dr Elisa deCourcy is an art historian, specialising in early photography and based at the Australian National University (ANU). She holds an Australian Research Council (ARC) DECRA fellowship for a project titled: ‘Capturing Foundational Australian Photography in a Globalising World’ (DE200101322) which will run until the second half of 2023. Her scholarship is informed by deep archival research, practice-led investigation and a re-thinking of digital design for heritage collections of photography. From 2016-2019 she was the Research Fellow and Research Assistant on two photographically-centred ARC Discovery Projects: 'Heritage in the Limelight: The magic lantern in Australia and the world' run out of the School of Art and Design, ANU, and 'Curating Photography in the Age of Photosharing', co-administered between ANU and RMIT, Melbourne. In 2018 she was awarded a Harry Ransom Fellowship from the University of Texas at Austin and an Australian Academy of the Humanities Publishing Subsidy Award in 2019. Both of these grants contributed to an extended book project, Empire, Early Photography and Spectacle: the global career of showman daguerreotypist J.W. Newland, co-authored with Martyn Jolly and released by Routledge in January 2021. Her work has been covered by The Guardian, The Smithsonian Magazine, and The Conversation.


Researcher's projects

Capturing foundational Australian photography in a globalising world (DECRA 2020- December 2023) DE200101322

This project will combine archival research on the foundational years of Australian photography, 1839-54, with new methods of multimedia database design to network early photographs: daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and calotypes, with dispersed manuscripts, journalism and legal proceedings that document their creation. These images are prized by Australian collecting institutions but their significance to our cultural heritage remains unrecognised. This project will analyse how colonial Australian photographers’ distance from Europe prompted them to innovate with processes, materials and apparatuses. It will excavate this neglected dimension of colonial modernity, assessing its resonance for media heritage, culture, and law.


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  01 July 2022 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers