Associate Professor, Art HistoryEmail
I study the theological, philosophical, and scientific ideas that informed the creative decisions of artists living in eastern and western medieval cultures from the third to fifteenth centuries. Recent and forthcoming publications explore the intersection of art and science manifest by astronomical and philosophical illuminated manuscripts. Primary research interests include Carolingian manuscript illumination and late-Gothic painting at the Bohemian court in Prague.
My first book project, Saving Science: Capturing the Heavens in Carolingian Manuscripts will be available from Pennsylvania State University Press by January 2017. In that volume, I examine the complex processes of inspiration and acculturation at play in one luxury copy of an illustrated astronomical encyclopedia referred to as the Handbook of 809, assessing the significance of classically inspired, celestial imagery for a ninth-century Frankish prelate such as Bishop Drogo of Metz. In addition, the book offers a revisionist approach to the study of early medieval astronomical manuscripts, grounding the discussion in the various forms of artistry on display in medieval books. This project has benefited from generous financial support, including numerous grants from the University of Virginia, assistance from the Millard Meiss Publication Fund of the College Art Association, and a Samuel H. Kress Foundation Research Grant conferred in conjunction with the International Center of Medieval Art. A related essay, "Classical constellations in Carolingian codices: investigating the celestial imagery of Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, MS 3307," appeared in an anthology from Ashgate, Negotiating Secular and Sacred in Medieval Art: Christian, Islamic, and Buddhist.
A second book project presently underway, Signs of Power: Astrology, Cosmology, and Philosophy in Late Medieval Prague, celebrates late medieval illuminated manuscripts devoted to astrology, astronomy, cosmology, and technology, which during a period of crisis for Wenceslas IV of Bohemia, arose like alchemical gold from the ashes. Two recent essays representative of these interests include, "Reading the Heavens: Revelation and Reification in the Astronomical Anthology for Wenceslas IV," Gesta 53.1 (2014), and "'So that you can understand this better': Art, Science, and Cosmology for Courtiers in William of Conches' Dragmaticon Philosophiae," Diagramm und Text, Diagrammatische Strukturen und die Dynamisierung von Wissen und Erfahrung, Überstorfer Colloquium 2012, ed. by Eckart Conrad Lutz, Vera Jerjen, and Christine Putzo (Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2014). The book, Signs of Power, is being drafted during the 2015-16 academic year at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.