Credit: Photo by Matthew Zhang.

I first met Erin Reitz as a freshman taking my first art history class, Intro to Contemporary Art. She was a graduate student working as a teaching assistant, while conducting research for her dissertation.

By the time we crossed paths again, she had completed her doctorate in art history and wrote her dissertation on the Black Panthers. Despite never having taken an art history class during her undergraduate career — she entered Northwestern as a philosophy major pursuing the pre-medicine track — today, she is a visiting professor in Northwestern’s art history department.

She was always interested in radical politics and aesthetics. Her college friends joked that she studied “revolution,” so perhaps her career choice was somewhat inevitable. Most of her classes, whether in political theory, history, or the one art theory class she took, were either tangentially or directly related to radicalism. Through these academic awakenings, she created an ad-hoc major called “Modernity Studies,” giving her space and time to question the status quo, both politically and aesthetically.

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