Faculty: Robert Emlen


Robert P. Emlen is Part Time Faculty in the Department of the History of Art and Visual Culture, where, since 1984, he has taught “Topics in the Decorative Arts in America,” a series of courses about the cultural history of buildings and their furnishings. Recent topics include “The Decorative Arts of 18th Century Rhode Island,” “The Shaker Aesthetic,” “The Neoclassical Style in America, 1775-1850,” and “The Arts & Crafts Movement in America.”

He also holds an appointment as University Curator and Senior Lecturer at Brown University, where he teaches material culture studies in the Department of American Civilization and has curatorial responsibility for the art collections and historic properties furnishing the Brown campus.  He is former Acting Associate Curator of Decorative Arts at the RISD Museum.

Academic Research/Areas of Interest

Robert P.  Emlen studies the material life and visual culture of eighteenth-and nineteenth-century America.  He is the author of Shaker Village Views: Illustrated Maps and Landscape Drawings by Shaker Artists of the Nineteenth Century (University Press of New England) and publishes in the leading journals of American material culture. He is currently working on a study of how the Shakers were pictured in the popular illustrated press of nineteenth-century America.

Robert Emlen

Robert Emlen


  • MA, University of Vermont
  • BA, Lake Forest College
  • BOA, Lake Forest College


  • HAVC-H597
English Foreground Image 2
Readings and performances often take place in the Fleet Library at RISD, which offers a seating platform for audiences
that doubles as a staircase to the next level.