Margaret Werth received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. She taught at Barnard College, Columbia University, before coming to the University of Delaware in 2001. Her area of interest is art and visual culture of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and her research and teaching are interdisciplinary and intermedial. Her book The Joy of Life: The Idyllic in French Art, circa 1900, published in 2002, explores dreamlike representations of mythic community, individual fantasy, utopianism, and joie de vivre in French painting from 1890 to 1917. Artists such as Henri Matisse, Paul Signac, Puvis de Chavannes, Paul Cézanne, and Henri-Edmond Cross figure prominently in her book and are discussed in relation to contemporary political, literary, psychological, and philosophical discourses.
Other publications include an essay on Pablo Picasso's early representations of the body in Picasso: The Early Years, National Gallery of Art, in 1997; one on Matisse's Nude with a White Scarf in a collection of essays on Matisse published by the Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen in 2005; and another on Monet and the American art colony at Giverny in Giverny: International Artists Colony, Musée d'art américain, Giverny, France, in 2007.
Her new book project studies representations of the human face in painting, printmaking, photography, and film between 1860 and 1930. It investigates how such representations elaborate changing ideas about subjectivity, identity, affect, gender, sexuality, technology, and visuality. In 2003 she organized a daylong symposium at the University of Delaware entitled "The Ends of Portrayal: Modern Portraiture, 1850-1950." An article indicating the direction of her current research appeared in the journal Intermédialités: Histoire et théorie des arts, des lettres, et des techniques in 2006. Other current projects study Paris films of the 1920s and the work of Edouard Manet in the 1870s.
Professor Werth teaches undergraduate lecture courses and seminars on Modern European and American art, photography, and film (19th and 20th century), and has taught the following graduate seminars while at the University of Delaware: "Symbolism," "Modern Portraiture," "Silent Film," "Modern Art and Literature," and "Painting, Photography, Film, Literature." She has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Georges Pompidou Art and Culture Foundation, The Clark Art Institute, and the Centre allemand d'histoire de l'art.