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Assistant Director and Lecturer
I am an art historian specializing in the European Middle Ages with an emphasis on the period from about 800 to 1200, and I have a new and growing interest in the intersection between the collection, reproduction, and display of medieval objects and monuments after the Middle Ages and the history and concepts of the academic disciplines. I earned my doctorate in the history of art from the Johns Hopkins University in 2007 and joined the Program in Museums and Society in 2011, after teaching as a post-doctoral fellow at Columbia University and as a visiting assistant professor at Oberlin College. I have also worked in various capacities in museum education and in curation at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Cloisters, the medieval branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Walters Art Museum. I have been a field editor for exhibition reviews at caa.reviews since 2012.
I have published on diverse topics from the ways in which medieval objects contribute to discussions about the role and status of images through their imagery and materials to the artistic innovations associated with the new class of wealthy and powerful episcopal patrons that emerged in Germany around the millennium; on a range of artworks from manuscripts to ivories; and on the connected cultural milieus of Ottonian Germany, Anglo-Saxon England, and northern Italy. My current research follows two paths. The first revolves around early medieval sensescapes, and the second considers the historiography of medieval art history, with particular attention to the role of museums in shaping distinct fields within medieval studies.
The courses I teach for the Program in Museums and Society consider museums from multiple disciplinary perspectives while at the same time encouraging students to investigate the discipline of their major according to a distinct set of interests and concerns, namely by attending to institutions whose work is closely intertwined with the history, concepts and approaches of the academic disciplines. I place particular emphasis not only on the museum as a primary source, but also on its public role in our society.
My first book, The Bernward Gospels: Art, Memory and the Episcopate in Medieval Germany (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2014) considered one of the most significant examples of the 11th-century book arts, the gospel book that served as a founding gift from Bishop Bernward of Hildesheim to the Abbey of St. Michael’s. A prominent representative of a new class of wealthy and powerful donors—the well-connected bishops of Ottonian Germany, Bernward commissioned artworks of extraordinary quality, and in a wide range of media. The densely meaningful paintings of his book sought to build a special relationship with God and to condition how contemporary and future viewers remembered the bishop. In doing so, the manuscript’s paintings raise broader questions about the nature of medieval images, mechanisms of memory, and ideas about spiritual perception around the millennium.
The book's privileging of touch together with sight over other sensory modes is significant and suggests that medieval patrons and audiences engaged with objects in multiple ways that have yet to be fully unpacked. An ongoing project considers these questions across various medieval sensescapes in order to probe the current and growing art-historical interest in the senses, while a course I taught in the fall of 2014 ("Inventing the Middle Ages") is the starting point for a new project that considers the collection, reproduction and display of medieval art in the shaping and professionalization of distinct fields within medieval studies.
I see my work for the Program in Museums and Society as being a guide not only to academic content and its ways of knowing—in other words, scholarly inquiry—but also to engaging public audiences. In my practicum courses I work collaboratively with my students to produce public interpretive projects such as the JHU Collections Web.
- Introduction to the Museum: Past and Present (M&S minor requirement)
- Introduction to the Museum: Issues and Ideas (M&S minor requirement)
- Inventing the Middle Ages (advanced seminar)
- Curating Material Culture for the Digital Age (digital humanities practicum that focuses on a rotating series of university collections)
- Art in the Museum (research intensive freshman seminar)
- Exhibits in Focus (B'more intersession)
As assistant director of the Program in Museums and Society, I manage a range of collaborations with local museums and heritage institutions. An exciting new partnership with the Maryland Zoo will build on students' growing interest in living collections with courses and programs planned to start in 2016. When I joined the program in 2011 I initiated and led a review of the curriculum to identify gaps and redundancies and to systematize our approach to course levels and learning goals. Based on that work I have been building the curriculum in new areas:
- Public History & the American City. We are in the ongoing process of developing courses that engage students in working with heritage sites, from projects on our own Homewood campus to interpretive work in historic neighborhoods such as the area around Lexington Market. Partnering with local communities and organizations such as the Baltimore National Heritage Association is an important part of this work. We also plan to pursue collaborations with members of the Homewood Community Partners Initiative.
- Digital Humanities. In 2012, the program applied for and received a humanities and social sciences grant from the university’s Center for Educational Resources to incorporate new and emerging technologies into its teaching and research (co-PI with Elizabeth Rodini). This grant launched the development of a technological and curricular template for working with Hopkins collections, one example of which is the JHU Collections Web and the course it supports: "Curating Material Culture for the Digital Age."
The Bernward Gospels: Art, Memory and the Episcopate in Medieval Germany. University Park, Penn State Press, 2014. Publication supported by two competitive awards, one from the International Center for Medieval Art with the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and a book subvention from the Medieval Academy of America.
"Le Paysage Sensoriel de l'Église du Haut Moyen Âge: Le Témoignage du Mitralis de Sicard de Crémone." In Les Cinq Sens.Edited by Eric Palazzo. Special Publication of the Centre d’études supérieures de civilization medieval. (forthcoming)
"Bishop and Monk: John the Baptist in the Episcopal Image of Anglo-Saxon England and Ottonian Germany."Envisioning the Medieval Bishop, Edited by Evan Gatti and Sigrid Danielson, 215-248. Medieval Church Studies, 29. Turnhout: Brepols, 2014
"Picturing the Treasury in Ottonian Art: The Power of Objects and the Art of Memory in the Bernward Gospels." Gesta 50.1 (2012): 19-39
"VT CERNIS and The Materiality of Bernwardian Art." In 1000 Jahre St. Michael in Hildesheim: Kirche-Kloster-Stifter, Internationales Symposium des Hornemann Instituts, September 16-18, 2010. Edited by Gerhard Lutz and Angela Weyer, 171-84. Hildesheim: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2012.
"Ornament, Style and Interpreting the Medieval Oliphant at the Walters: A Reconsideration" A New Look at Old Things? [= Journal of the Walters Art Museum 68/69]. Edited by Kathryn B. Gerry and Richard A. Leson, 87-98. 2010/2011.
"To Touch the Image: Embodying Christ in the Bernward Gospels." Peregrinations 3.1 (2010): 138-73. Special Issue on Ottonian Art, edited by Evan Gatti, with an introduction by Adam Cohen. (online@http://peregrinations.kenyon.edu)