Brenda Lynn Edgar

Senior Research Associate SNSF


Brenda Lynn Edgar is an art historian. Her work focuses on the material cultural history of the arts and their intersection with the history of medicine in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She is currently researching the history of photography and film in the history of humanitarianism and notions of Arcadia in arts and medicine in the 19th and 20th centuries. From 2015 to 2018, she was senior research and teaching associate in iEH2’s Medical Humanities department. Since 2019, she has been senior research associate SNSF in iEH2’s department of History of Medicine, working on Professor Dolores Martín Moruno’s SNSF project Those Women who performed Humanitarian Action: A Gendered history of compassion from the Franco-Prussian War to the Second World War, as well as the SNSF Agora Project Beyond Compassion: Gender and Humanitarian Action. She has published articles and a scientific monography on the decorative use of photography in the 19th and 20th centuries and is currently preparing articles on the use of landscape photography in late 20th century medicine and the anthropological cinema of Jacqueline Veuve on the history of humanitarian women.

Brenda Lynn Edgar holds a master’s and a PhD in Art history from the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, a master’s in Architecture and Urban Design from Harvard University and a bachelor’s in Architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design. She had an SNSF young researcher grant from 2006-2008 and has taught history and theory of architecture at the HEIA Fribourg and the HEAD Geneva.


Research subjects

  • Material culture history of the arts and their intersection with medicine, 19th-20th century
  • History of emotions in arts and medicine
  • History of cinema and photography in humanitarianism
  • History of the architecture of internment and humanitarian relief camps



Brenda Lynn Edgar has given seminars on the history of art and epidemics, the history of epidemics, the history of hospital architecture, and the history of art and human experimentation in medicine as well as lecture courses in the use of photography by 19th century French neurologists and dream iconology in art and neurosciences.  


Selected Publications


Edgar, Brenda Lynn, “Siobhan Lyons (dir.), Ruin Porn and the Obsession with Decay, 2018”, Transbordeur. Photographie histoire société, no 5, 2021, pp. 180-181.

Martín Moruno, Dolores, Edgar, Brenda Lynn, Leyder, Marie, “Feminist perspectives on the history of humanitarian relief (1870–1945)”, Medicine, Conflict and Survival, 36:1, 2020, p. 2-18,

Wenger, Alexandre, Edgar, Brenda Lynn, Louis Courvoisier, Micheline, “Medical Humanities: Let’s talk About Pertinence”, Bioethica Forum, n°9, vol.4, 2016, p.161-163.    

Edgar, Brenda Lynn, “L’ensemble de Nancy : le collage dans le vitrail photographique français du XIXe siècle”, Histoire de l’art, n°78, 2016, p.99-116. Link to article on 

Edgar, Brenda Lynn, “Les façades photographiques de la fin du XXe siècle”, Histoire de l’art, 2013, 72, p. 137-148. Link to article on



Edgar, Brenda Lynn, Gorin Valérie, MARTIN MORUNO Dolores (editors), Making Humanitarian Crises: Emotions and Images in History, London, Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming 2021.

Edgar, Brenda Lynn, L’ornement photographique et architecture au XXe siècle, Rennes : Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2021. Link


Book Chapters

Edgar, Brenda Lynn, “The Efficacy of Arcadia: constructing emotions of nature in the pained body through landscape photography”, in Rob Boddice, Bettina Hitzer (editors), Feeling Dis-ease: Experiencing Medicine and Illness in Modern History, London, Bloomsbury Academic, forthcoming 2021.

Edgar, Brenda Lynn, “Archiving the Trauma of Internment Camps through Film: Jacqueline Veuve’s ‘Journal de Rivesaltes’, 1941-1942, (1997)”, in B. Edgar, V. Gorin, D. Martín Moruno (eds.), Making Humanitarian Crises: Emotions and Images in History, London, Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming 2021.

Edgar, Brenda Lynn, “L’Invention photographique et le paysage mural : le photomural décoratif des années 1930”, in P-H. Frangne et P. Limido (dir.), Les inventions photographiques du paysage, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2016, p. 80-91. Link to article on


Selected Conferences

“Projecting Paradise? Some questions for the history of emotions on the therapeutic use of images of nature, 1930’s-present”, International conference “Feeling Dis/ease: New Perspectives on Modern History”, 29–31 January 2020, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, 31.01.2020.

“Reconstructing Rivesaltes: Visual Anthropology in the Cinema of Jacqueline Veuve”, International workshop “Regarding the Pain of Others: What Emotions Have to do in the History of Humanitarian Images”, Louis-Jeantet Foundation, University of Geneva, Faculty of Medicine, 04.07.2019.

“Projeter la nature : notions du paysage dans la photographie murale, France, 1854-1937”, International workshop “Face au mur : la décoration murale en France de la fin du XIXe siècle aux années 1930”, French National Institute of Art History (INHA), Paris, 23.05.2019. 

“Projeter la nature : le paysage dans la décoration murale photographique, Europe, Etats-Unis, XIXe-XXe siècles”, Conference “Questions de recherche », University of Geneva, Faculty of Humanities, 15.11.2018.

De la décoration humaine : Notions of skin in architecture and dermatology in the nineteenth century”, Association for Art History Annual Conference, Courtauld Institute & King's College London, 5.04.2018.