Cara Finnegan is a writer, teacher, and historian of photography. Her books and essays explore the role of photography as a tool for public life. Her most recent book, Photographic Presidents: Making History from Daguerreotype to Digital, was published by University of Illinois Press in May 2021.
Finnegan's ideas about photography have been featured in a variety of publications in the fields of Communication and U.S. History, as well as in popular media outlets such as the New York Times, BBC, Vogue Italia, Vox, and Reuters. She is also affiliated with Reading the Pictures, a non-profit site dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media imagery. Since 2018, Finnegan and Reading the Pictures publisher Michael Shaw have co-hosted Chatting the Pictures, a webcast analyzing key news photos of the week.
A native of Saint Paul, Minnesota, Finnegan received her B.A. from the University of St. Thomas in 1992, her M.A. from the University of Maine in 1995, and her Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 1999. A member of the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 1999, she holds the rank of Professor in the Department of Communication. She was named a University Scholar in 2017 and holds affiliated appointments in Art History, Gender and Women's Studies, and the Center for Writing Studies.
Finnegan is also a certified book coach who works with academics who want to write non-academic stories.
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