B.A., Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge); M.A., University of Texas (Austin); Ph.D., University of California (Berkeley)
Assistant Professor of Art
Art historian focusing on cross-cultural connections in the ancient Mediterranean
One misconception about conducting research around the Mediterranean is that the weather will always be nice. In fact, snow does fall in Morocco, and, on deceptively beautiful springtime days in Provence, the fierce Mistral wind can freeze your fingers numb. Visiting these regions is, nonetheless, the best way to study the ancient Roman world. Rome itself constituted only a small part of an empire stretching from Britain to Tunisia and from Morocco to Iraq. Traditionally, however, this one city has dominated Roman Studies. In my research and teaching, I aim to bring provincial communities into sharper focus and to re-envision the empire from their perspective.
Many of my research ideas come from the classroom, and I take pleasure in introducing students to a broad range of ancient cultures. My lecture courses on Roman, Greek, Celtic, Etruscan, and Near Eastern art and architecture emphasize cross-cultural exchange. My advanced seminars often cut across regional boundaries. Ancient Palaces and Villas (Arth 302), for example, develops a comparative analysis of Persian, Mesopotamian, Greek, and Roman royal art and architecture. Antiquities Today (Arth 373), constructs an historical frame around current repatriation, conservation, and acquisition debates. For all of these courses, I plan field trips to local museums and rare book collections, including Wellesley’s Davis Museum and Clapp Library Special Collections, as well as the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. For the upcoming academic year (2015-2016), Bryan Burns and I have received funding from the Mellon Foundation to create a “First Year Experience,” a year-long seminar focused on artifacts, archaeology, and museums. We will also team-teach “Antiquities Today” in the spring, which will allow us to work closely with students to prepare the Davis Museum’s antiquities collection for permanent reinstallation.
My current research focuses on commemoration and the impact of empire on the art of Britain and France. The Getty Foundation’s three-year “Arts of Rome’s Provinces” seminar allowed me to travel with a group of international scholars to Britain (2011), Greece (2012), and the Getty Villa (2013). The seminar has produced a book (currently in press) proposing new approaches to the study of provincial art. My contribution, “Coins before Conquest in Celtic France: an Art Lost to Empire” publishes two overlooked coins (from Paris and ancient Brittany) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I had the opportunity to research these coins when I held the Met’s Pat O’Connell Memorial Fellowship during my sabbatical year (2013-2014). My research on commemoration in ancient France, Germany, and Britain has appeared in the Oxford Handbook of Roman Sculpture, and I have recently given talks on "Gifts for the Gods: The Art of Devotion in Roman Gaul” at the Getty Villa and on “The First Public Monument in Paris: the Pillar of the Sailors, 14-37 CE” at the annual AIA conference. Last year, I enjoyed taking several groups to see Roman in the Provinces: Art on the Periphery of Empire, on display at the Yale University Art Gallery (Fall 2014) and the McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College (Spring 2015). Included in the exhibit were a number of artworks featuring Julia Domna, my favorite Roman empress. For the catalogue, I wrote an essay on commemorative arches in North Africa that honored her. This fall, I’m looking forward to participating in the “Art of War” conference at Brown University, where I will draw on self-representations of Celtic warriors to problematize ethnic stereotypes in Greek and Roman art.