Professor Amstutz completed her PhD in the History of Art at the University of Toronto. Before joining the faculty in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at UO, she was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Paintings and Sculpture at the Yale Center for British Art, where she co-curated the exhibition "The Critique of Reason: Romantic Art, 1760–1860" (Yale University Art Gallery, March 6–July 26, 2015).
Her first book, Caspar David Friedrich: Nature and the Self (Yale University Press, 2020), considers how methods and ideas in the life sciences informed the relationship between nature and the human subject in the German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich’s mature landscapes. The book won the Novalis Prize from the Novalis Gesellschaft/Friedrich Schiller University Jena, and was a finalist for the Waterloo Centre for German Studies Book Prize and the Klaus Heyne Prize from the Goethe University Frankfurt.
Professor Amstutz's current book project uses the Australian and Papuan bowerbird's practice of collecting and arranging decorative objects to attract a mate as a point of departure to question the humanist commitments of art history as a discipline. The project explores how bowerbird displays have been understood across cultures, discplines, and history in order to open up new channels for understanding art within a multispecies framework.
She is also working on two additional projects. The first explores the material and conceptual resonance of fossils in the visual arts since the eighteenth century, particularly in the British and German contexts. The second investigates the relationship between William Blake’s imagery and dance.
She welcomes applications from students interested in pursuing MA and PhD degrees in any area of eighteenth- or nineteenth-century European art, but particularly projects focused on British or German art, and/or issues surrounding landscape, nature, animal studies, and the history of science.
Co-edited with Anne Bohnenkamp-Renken, Mareike Hennig, and Gregor Wedekind. Das Bild der Natur in der Romantik. Kunst als Philosophie und Wissenschaft. Paderborn: Brill/Wilhelm Fink, 2021.
Caspar David Friedrich: Nature and the Self. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020.
"The Avian Sense for Beauty: A Posthumanist Perspective on the Bowerbird,” Art History 44, no. 5 (Nov. 2021): 1038–64.
"Transparente Bilder: Caspar David Friedrichs Umgang mit Optik und Naturkunde," in Das Bild der Natur in der Romantik: Kunst als Philosophie und Wissenschaft, ed. Nina Amstutz, Anne Bohnenkamp-Renken, Mareike Hennig, Gregor Wedekind (Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2021), 119–145.
“Landscape and the Architecture of Light: John Constable’s Clouds at the Yale Center for British Art,” Journal of the History of Collections 30, no. 1 (March 2018): 167-178.
“A Self-Portrait as Landscape Painter: Caspar David Friedrich and Phrenology,” Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 79, no. 1 (2016): 72–91.
“Caspar David Friedrich and the Aesthetics of Community,” Studies in Romanticism 54, no. 4 (Winter 2015): 447–475.
“Caspar David Friedrich and the Anatomy of Nature,” Art History 37, no. 3 (June 2014): 454–81. (Honorable Mention in the 2015 HGCEA Emerging Scholars Prize)