spearlAssistant Professor of Communication

Core Faculty in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies


Sharrona Pearl is an Assistant Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication and core faculty in the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program at Penn. A historian and theorist of the body and face, she is an expert on physiognomy – the study of facial features and their relationship to character traits. She has explored the face in a number of articles and two monographs, About Faces: Physiognomy in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Harvard University Press, 2010) and Face/On: Face Transplants and the Ethics of the Other (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming). She is also the editor of Images, Ethics, Technology (Routledge, 2016), the latest volume in the Shaping Inquiry in Culture, Communication and Media Studies series. Her current research explores facial prosthetics in film and television, with a particular focus on gender and race and how the face can be manipulated to communicate character. She is also working on a project on “racialized forgiveness” in polices shootings and other forms of institutional violence. Other areas of interest include visual culture; self-fashioning and visual judgment; science and performance; freak shows through history; and the ethics of images.

Dr. Pearl previously was a postdoctoral fellow in the Committee on Degrees in History and Literature and in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University, and received the Swann Foundation Fellowship for Caricature and Cartoon at the Library of Congress. She has served as the keynote speaker for the Kern Conference in Visual Communication and the Geddes W. Simpson Memorial Lecturer at the University of Maine.