Professor of History, Dean of Critical Social Inquiry
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.
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 professionalization of midwifery; the debates surrounding wet-nursing and virginal lactations; male menstruation; homoeroticism in Renaissance portraits; and the invention of the erotic nude in Venetian art. Mix of shorter papers on the reading assignment plus an independent research paper. Fieldtrip to the Met depending on availability of funds.