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 the Madonna Lactans in late medieval and Renaissance art (see her article in Renaissance Quarterly, 73.1 Fall 2018). Her books include two monographs entitled Roman Charity: Queer Lactations in Early Modern Visual Culture (transcript Verlag, 2016) and Convents and the Body Politic in Late Renaissance Venice (University of Chicago Press, 1999) as well as two edited volumes Across the Religious Divide: Women, Property, and Law in the Wider Mediterranvan, with Shona Kelly Wray (Routledge, 2009) and Medieval and Renaissance Lactations: Images, Rhetorics, Practices (Ashgate, 2013). She published numerous articles on allegories of Charity, the Madonna Lactans, the history of marriage, and Portuguese women's property rights in the Renaissance.
We will analyze early modern art in its global context and local specificities. Field trips to local private collections and college art museums as well as the Metropolitan Museum in N.Y. (and/or the MFA in Boston) will be an important component of the course. We will use textbooks, museum catalogues, and research articles to learn about and discuss connectivities, mutual influences and global exchange as well as specific indigenous and local visual traditions, media, and techniques. Topics will include: pre- and post-Columbian feather art; Michelangelo's drawings; bronze plaques from Benin; Congo power figures; the syncretism of Mexican religious art; Byzantine and Ethiopian icons; Mughal book art; Renaissance representation of Africans and Native Americans; curatorial practices; the aesthetics of ornamentation; Islamic maiolica and architecture; Chinese scrolls. The final research paper should be about an object or a cluster of artworks that is examined through direct observation.
This course is a methods-course for all students interested in historical inquiry that introduces students to primary research and various theoretical frameworks. We will start out by reading Gayatri Spivak's essay "Can the Subaltern Speak?" that problematizes the difficulties of writing the history of disenfranchised peoples, then trace the after-life of her famous essay in South-Asian post-colonial and Latin American de-colonial historiography, and finally engage with Laura Ann Stoler's work on Dutch colonial archives and the politics of imperial intimacy. Students will pursue their own primary research in the various colonial and de-colonial archives at AC, MHC, and SC as well as the museum of art at MHC. These archives contain, among others, letters written by female missionaries in the Ottoman Empire (MHC alumnae), journals written by British governors' wives in India (AC alumni), and late 20th century collections of queer and anti-racist activists (SC alumnae). The aim is to produce a substantial original research paper.
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 will also 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 investigates the current "re-branding" of Germany by focusing on Berlin as an astonishingly liberal - i.e. hip, artsy, and affordable - city. Setting the scene by reading Peter Schneider's recent book Berlin Now, we will investigate scholarly literature, fiction, film, and journalistic writing to discuss and critically evaluate this self-presentation, accompanied by inquiries into Germany's complex history of the 20th century. The larger topics we will address include: the politics and history of city planning and urban development; contemporary music, theater, literature, film, and the arts; GDR legacy and "Ostalgie" ([n]ostalgia); the situation of immigrants, migrants, and transient people living in Berlin; the history of Berlin's queer culture; Jews in Berlin and the Holocaust. The course will be accompanied by weekly film screenings. It is especially geared toward students preparing to participate in the Berlin program.