Interim Director and Senior Lecturer
My undergraduate degrees are in history and art history from Williams College in Massachusetts (2000). I earned my doctorate in the history of art from the Johns Hopkins University in 2007 and joined the Program in Museums and Society (M&S) in 2011, after teaching as a post-doctoral fellow at Columbia University and as a visiting assistant professor at Oberlin College. I have experience in a variety of educational and curatorial roles at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Walters Art Museum and the Cloisters (the medieval branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art), and have been a field editor for exhibition reviews at caa.reviews.
When I started at M&S 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. A 2013 grant renewal from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (PI: Elizabeth Rodini) together with several single project grants for which I served as principal investigator, allowed us to expand Museums and Society's curriculum into new areas ranging from digital humanities to living collections.
I work actively to develop productive collaborations with regional museums, galleries, libraries and archives. My article "The Practicum Course Model: Embracing the Museum-University Culture Clash" (Journal of Museum Education, Winter 2016) shared lessons learned from years of developing such partnerships. Among my current initiatives are: Exhibiting Black Artists at the Baltimore Museum of Art and The Inclusive Object Toolkit, both with the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the practical ethics project Housing Our Story: Towards Archival Justice for Black Baltimore, with Nathan Connolly (History) and Shani Mott (Africana Studies).
My pedagogy allies the conceptual with the applied in the study of material culture and in the work of making it relevant and accessible to public audiences. This often requires conceptualizing new methods of teaching. The template I created in the Omeka platform for the JHU Collections Web offers a way for students to build and interpret collections of university objects online and in the process understand collection catalogues and their associated data as socially embedded and historical in their own right. I am also involved in developing engaged models for community-based learning (CBL) and in studying their impact on students. An article in process tackles the involvement of public audiences in practicum courses. It establishes the beginnings of a pedagogy informed by practical ethics to define a more complex position for faculty in CBL classes that accounts for and validates student and community histories and perspectives in a developmentally integral way.
In addition to my curricular and pedagogical work, I maintain an active research portfolio. I have published on a range of artworks from manuscripts to ivories and on the connected cultural milieus of Ottonian Germany, Anglo-Saxon England, and northern Italy. More recent contributions consider the sense-scapes of distinct types of twelfth-century churches, the restaging of art exhibitions, and the modern history of race and social networks in US museums.
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. My 2016 article “Le paysage sensoriel de l'église et les images vers 1200" reads the sensescape of medieval churches through the liturgical commentary of Sicard of Cremona, and I have given papers that expand this inquiry to the writings of Rupert of Deutz and Honorious of Autun.
I have a growing secondary specialization in modern African-American history and culture, with particular attention to matters of race and canon-building in the field of art history. Current contributions consider the experiences of African-Americans in the art system of the 1920s-1950s, and the restaging of contemporary art exhibitions. My interests also include museology more broadly, especially the concepts and practices of our digital age.
Teaching and curricular development in Museums and Society is inherently interdisciplinary and most of my courses are cross-listed with one or more departments. Working with students to collaborate across disciplines and with diverse communities is among the most motivating and rewarding aspects of my teaching.
- Introduction to the Museum: Past and Present
- Introduction to the Museum: Issues and Ideas
- Inventing the Middle Ages
- Virtual Museum
- Curating Material Culture for the Digital Age
- World of Things
- Collections Remix: Black at Hopkins
- Black Artists in American Museums
- Art in the Museum
- Object Encounters at the Baltimore Museum of Art
- Exhibits in Focus
When I first joined the program in 2011 I initiated and led a review of the existing curriculum to identify gaps and redundancies and to systematize our approach to course levels and learning goals. Based on that assessment I built the curriculum in three main new areas, not only through my own teaching but also through collaborations I initiated with local museums and heritage institutions.
- Public History & the American City. Every year we grow the number of courses we offer that engage students in working with heritage sites, from projects on our own Homewood campus to interpretive work in Baltimore's historic neighborhoods. Partnering with local communities and organizations such as the Baltimore National Heritage Association and the Reginald Lewis Museum is an important part of this work. 2015 saw the launch of our first practicum course on Museums and Social Responsibility. It used protests in Baltimore in the wake of Freddie Gray's death as a springboard to examine the social role museums should play in Baltimore. In 2016 I won an Arts Innovation grant and was Community Engaged Faculty Fellow at the Center for Social Concern to support a collaboration with Nanny Jack and Co. an archives and consulting agency specializing in African-American material culture. We worked with students to mine the artistic, cultural and archival collections of the university to engage campus concerns about inclusion and diversity. In 2017 I was awarded with Nathan Connolly (History) and Shani Mott (Africana Studies) a practical ethics grant from JHU's Berman Institute to support Housing Our Story: Towards Archival Justice for Black Baltimore. The project will launch three new courses to be offered starting in 2018.
- Digital Humanities. In 2012, I received a humanities and social sciences grant from the university’s Center for Educational Resources to incorporate new and emerging technologies into the program's teaching and research (co-I 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. The template has been adopted by colleagues such as Jeremy Green (History of Medicine). I also mentor students on a variety of mobile projects. In 2016 I obtained funds from the MuseWeb Foundation to support a student internship focused on creating multi-media guides to campus collections and sites, including its two museums, and in 2017 the program is hosting its first public arts intern to create a participatory mobile tour of the university's art collection.
- Living Collections/Environment. In 2016 and 2017 the program offered courses based in the Maryland Zoo, with collaborators from the Whiting School of Engineering's NSF-funded STEM Achievement in Baltimore City Elementary Schools program and from a local elementary school. These courses investigate conservation education and programming in formal and informal settings.
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.
“The Lumpy Blend: Museum-University Partnerships, Practical Ethics and Community Based Learning.” With Tyler Derreth (in process)
“A Low-Tech Approach to Digital Literacy.” JHU Innovative Instructor. July 2016
"The Practicum Course Model: Embracing the Museum-University Culture Clash." Journal of Museum Education 41.4 (2016), in press.
Art-History and Museums
“Social Networks and Race at the Baltimore Museum of Art 1920-1960” (in process)
“Revisiting Contemporary Negro Art.” With Morgan Dowty and Gamynne Guillotte. Selected for edited volume Reconstructing Exhibitions (in process)
"Le Paysage Sensoriel de l'Église du Haut Moyen Âge: Le Témoignage du Mitralis de Sicard de Crémone." In Les cinq sens au Moyen Âge. Edited by Eric Palazzo, 669-90. Éditions du Cerf, 2016
"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)
“Collecting the World: Hans Sloane and the Origins of the British Museum” Book review. History: Reviews of New Books 5 (September 2018)
“A Feast for the Senses: Art and Experience in Medieval Art at the Walters Art Museum.” Exhibition review. reviews: A Publication of the College Art Association of America. (December 2017)
Select Museum Projects:
Housing Our Story: Towards Archival Justice for Black Baltimore, ongoing (building an archive, in process, with co-Is Nathan Connolly, History, and Shani Mott, Africana Studies)
American Selfie. Winter 2017 (installation, co-curated with JHU students)
Joyce Scott’s Ancestry Doll 1. Fall 2017 (installation & programming, co-curated with JHU students in consultation with artist)
The Material Culture of Academic Life, 2014 (online exhibition, co-curated with JHU students)
A Sense of Place, 2014 - ongoing (10 wayside exhibits, with Elizabeth Maloney and JHU students)
Supervised Student Projects:
Morbid Obsessions: Exploring the Ambivalence of Death in Medical Museums in 20th and 21st century United States (Woodrow Wilson fellowship project, Sera Yoo)
The Missing History of the Hopkins National Pan-Hellenic Council, 2018 (oral history and archiving project focused on black Greek life, Kwame Alston)
Enslaved at Homewood: Education, 2018 (installation in exhibition Enslaved at Homewood, Homewood Museum, Yeiji Kim)
Curse of Dimensionality (interpretation for HEMI/MICA Extreme Arts installation, Andrea White)
Homewood Stories & Archaeology of Knowledge, Summer 2016 (audio tours, Anne Hollmuller)
Conversations with the Carrolls, April 2016 (museum theater performance, Sarah Braver and Helena Arose)
Rethinking Gulf Museology, 2015 (Woodrow Wilson fellowship project, John Durovsik)
Motifs in Jewish Art, 2013-2014 (installation, Drew Lash)
To Glorify and To Sanctify: The Crown in Jewish Art, 2012-2013 (installation, Gabrielle Barr)
JHU Museum Collaborators:
- Homewood Museum
- Evergreen Museum
- JHU Archives and Special Collections
- JHU Cultural Properties
- Hopkins History Project
- Alan Mason Chesney Archives
Off-campus Museum Partners
- Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
- Baltimore Museum of Industry
- Baltimore Museum of Art
- Walters Art Museum
- The Contemporary
- Baltimore National Heritage Area
- Nanny Jack and Co.
- Peale Center for Baltimore History and Culture
- Arthur M. Sackler Gallery