Faculty at the School of Arts and Humanities

Charissa N. Terranova


Areas of Specialization:  Modern and Contemporary Art and Architectural History, History of Biology in Art and Architecture, New Media Art History, History of Urbanism

Office:  ATC 2.704
Mail Station:  ATC 11
Email:  [email protected]
Phone:  972-883-4394

Charissa N. Terranova lectures and teaches seminars on modern and contemporary art and architectural history, theory, and criticism, the history of biology in art and architecture, and media and new media art and theory.

Terranova researches complex systems within art and architecture, focusing on the history of biology and biocentrism in art and architecture. She is author of Art as Organism: Biology and the Evolution of the Digital Image (2016) and Automotive Prosthetic: Technological Mediation and the Car in Conceptual Art (2014), editor of a double-issue of Technoetic Arts devoted to "Complexism" (2016), and coeditor with Meredith Tromble of The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture (2016).

Her work centers on tracing the connections between biology, art, and architecture in the diaspora of the Bauhaus in England and the U.S. after 1933. Art as Organism: Biology and the Evolution of the Digital Image (IB Tauris, January 2016) links the emergence of the digital image to the dispersion of biocentric aesthetic philosophies developed by Bauhaus pedagogue László Moholy-Nagy, from 1920s Berlin to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1970s. It uncovers seminal but overlooked references to biology, the organism, feedback loops, emotions and the Gestalt, along with an intricate genealogy of related thinkers across disciplines.

The forthcoming Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture (June 2016), coedited by Terranova and San Francisco media artist Meredith Tromble, brings together thirty essays by artists, architects, theorists, and historians on the broad-ranging topic of bios, life as a matter of ecological relations, within art and architecture.

Inaugural director and curator of Centraltrak: The UT Dallas Artists Residency, Terranova regularly curates and writes art criticism. From September 2015 to February 2016, Terranova collaborated with Davidson College Professor of Biology Dave Wessner in the SciArt Center NYC's virtual residency program. As part of the residency, Terranova and Wessner co-curated in February 2016 Gut Instinct: Art, Design, and the Microbiome, an on-line exhibition about art, the gut-brain axis, and gastrointestinal microbiome. In the fall of 2015 at Gray Matters Gallery in Dallas, Texas she curated Chirality: Defiant Mirror Images, an exhibition about art and the scientific concept of "chirality," or non-superimposable mirror images.

Terranova enjoys working with students on the history and theory of science within modern and contemporary art and new media practices. She encourages students to use their imagination in their research in these fields in order to open new modes and spaces of inquiry. My goal is to help students re-frame conventional art historical questions in terms of contemporary science-based problem solving. She also enjoys working with art students in practice and frequently does studio visits.

Before joining the faculty of the University of Texas at Dallas to launch Centraltrak, the university's artists residency program, Terranova taught modern and contemporary art and architectural history at Southern Methodist University, modern architectural history and art theory at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, architectural history and theory at the Boston Architectural College, and architectural history and theory at Harvard University.

Recent Courses:  View courses taught by Charissa N. Terranova

Work Samples and Publications: 


Book Chapters:

  • "The Epigenetic Landscape of Art and Science c. 1950, or How Conrad Waddington and Gyorgy Kepes Went Beyond Two Cultures," in The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture, an anthology coedited with Meredith Tromble, Routledge Press, Architecture, forthcoming fall 2016.
  • "The Scarcity Aesthetic: Art, Design, and Population when Systems Fail," in an anthology on the humanities and technology, edited by George Sochan, Humanities and Technology Association President, Bowie State University, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, forthcoming fall 2015.

Edited and Juried Scholarly Journal Publications

  • "COMPLEXISM: Art + Biology + Computation, A New Axis in Critical Theory?" Edited volumes by Charissa N. Terranova, forthcoming in two consecutive issues of Technoetic Arts: A Journal, Vols. 14 and 15, Winter/Spring 2016.

Juried Scholarly Journal Publications

  • "Systems and Automatisms: Jack Burnham, Stanley Cavell and the Evolution of a Neoliberal Aesthetic." Leonardo (February 2014) Vol. 47, No. 1. 56–62.
  • "Haptic Unconscious: A Prehistory of Affectivity in Moholy–Nagy's 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.
  • "The Gestalt of STREET TEAM: Guerrilla Tactics, GIFs, and the Museum," Touch and Go issue of Leonardo Electronic Almanac. Eds, Irini Papadimitriou and Jonathan Munro. (2012) Vol. 18, No. 3: 238–241.
  • "Richard Prince's Car Fetish: Fetishising as Othering and White Trash Landscapes, Transmission Annual: Provocation. Eds., Michael Corris, Jaspar Joseph–Lester, Sharon Kivland. London: Artwords Press, 2011. 78–91.
  • "Mobile Perception and the Double Aperture: Conceptualism, the Car, and Urban Sprawl." Transfers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies. Summer 2011.
  • "Machismo, Castration, Homophobia: A Progressive Politics of Masculinity in the Work of Gober, Barney, and McCarthy." thresholds 37. (Spring 2010) 20–30.
  • "The Automobile in Art: From Fetish Object of Delectation to Prosthetic Extension in an Ecological Matrix," Gijs Mom, Peter Norton, Georgine Clarsen, and Gordon Pirie, Eds. Mobility in History: Themes in Transport. (Neuchâtel, Swizterland: Editions Alphil, 2010) 231–238.
  • "Ultramodern Underground Dallas: Vincent Ponte's Pedestrian–Way as Systematic Solution to the Declining Downtown," Urban History Review/Revue d'histoire urbaine, Vol. XXXVII, No. 2 (Spring 2009, printemps 2009) 18–29.
  • "Marcel Poëte's Bergsonian Urbanism," Journal of Urban History, Vol. 34 No. 6 (2008), 919–943.
  • "Smell and the City: Miasma as a Code of Crisis in Postwar French Cinema," The Senses and Society, Vol. 2 Issue 2, (2007) 137–54.
  • "Urban Clinamen: Delinquency, Individualism and the Avant–Garde Swerve," Oase #59 (September 2002). 45–58.


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

Curriculum Vitae:  Charissa N. Terranova's CV

Website(s):  www.charissaterranova.com