Professor of History
Her teaching interests focus on the social and cultural history of Early Modern Europe, with a special emphasis on Renaissance Visual Culture, Body History, Catholicism, and Comparative Legal Studies of the Mediterranean.
Her most recent research centers on lactation imagery in Renaissance and Baroque art. She published a book entitled Convents and the Body Politic in Late Renaissance Venice (University of Chicago Press, 1999), two edited volumes entitled Across the Religious Divide: Women, Property, and Law in the Wider Mediterranean, with Shona Kelly Wray (Routledge, 2009) and Medieval and Renaissance Lactations: Images, Rhetorics, Practices (Ashgate, 2013), as well as articles on allegories of Charity, queer lactation imagery, the history of marriage and Portuguese women's property rights in the Renaissance.
This course is about interlocking theories of visual culture, materiality, and desire. It will start out by examining miracle-working art of the medieval period, move into early modern iconoclasm, and consider European encounters with visual cultures in Latin America and Africa. Among others, we will ask, in W. T. Mitchell's words: "What do pictures want?" to theorize the particular address of certain figurative art works on the viewer. We might also consider questions concerning the materiality of Neapolitan Baroque art, and trace the colonial history of the concept of "fetish," first coined by 16th century Portuguese explorers of Africa, who encountered what they called magic and witchcraft (feitico).
This course is an introductory history course based entirely on primary literature, art, and music written and produced by women from various parts of Europe, Mexico, and Ethiopia. We will read letters, scientific treatises, autobiographies, and political writings by prominent mystics (Saints Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz and Walatta Pretos), proto-feminist writers (Christine de Pizan and Moderata Fonte), female physicians and midwives (Trotula, Olivia Sabuco de Nantes Barrera, Jane Sharp), Jewish businesswomen (Glickl van Hameln), fake saints (Cecilia Ferazzi), courtesans (Veronica Franco), cross-dressing soldiers (Catalina/o de Erauso), and French revolutionaries (Olympe de Gouges). In addition, we will listen to music by Francesca Caccini and Italian nuns and view the art of Artemisia Gentileschi, Lavinia Fontana, and Sofonisba Anguissola. Mix of creative writing assignments and analytical papers.
Berlin has been at the center of German politics and culture all throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century. Through a series of case studies and a focus on select political events, we will discuss major changes in German culture and society since the end of WW I. Topics might inlcude: the revolution of 1918 and the assassination of Rosa Luxemburg; gay culture in the 1920's; the rise ofNazism and the burning of the Reichstag; Jews during WW II; Russians in Berlin; the building of the wall in 1961; Rudi Dutschke and the student rebellion of 1968; GDR dissidents; the Turkish community; the squatter movement; reunification and gentrification; club-culture; African (and Syrian) migrants and refugees. We will read fiction and creative non fiction as well as scholarly literature. A film series will accompany the course with a German discussion session. Assignments are flexible and can incorporate artistic productions. This course might be of particular interest to students who will participate in the Berlin program in the spring of 2017.
Ever since Leonardo da Vinci produced his anatomical drawings and German artists studied corpses of executed prisoners, the visual arts and the medical sciences converged. While artists strove for the anatomically "correct" representation of eroticized male and female nudes, scientists enhanced the truth-value of their anatomical drawings by employing the new classicizing style. Also in religious art, spiritual truths were conveyed in a sensuous, erotic manner, as the many depictions of semi-nude saints, Christ, and the Virgin Mary demonstrate. In addition to viewing Renaissance and Baroque artworks, we will read recent historical scholarship and primary literature on the discovery of the clitoris and the emergence of lesbian desire; anatomical representations of gender difference; the debates surrounding wet-nursing and virginal lactations; male menstruation; homoeroticism in Renaissance portraits; race and the ethnographic portraits of Albert Eckhout. Mix of shorter papers on the reading assignment plus an independent research paper. Fieldtrip to the Met depending on availability of funds.