Each class I teach I learn something new. The interdisciplinary aspect of art history makes it an exciting field to explore with students. The core question we hope to answer is “why do things look the way they do?” Finding out involves being a detective.
Most courses involve visits to regional museums and archaeological sites so that we see and experience these places and objects in person.
In addition to the surveys of Ancient to Medieval art and Non-Western art, I teach a variety of upper-level courses in Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance art. I also have taught special topics courses such as Greek and Roman Theater, Roman Women, and Women in Antiquity.
Much of my research has focused on female figures in the circle of the wine god Dionysus such as his celebrants, maenads, and his consort, Ariadne. I also explored female figures that came into conflict with the god such as Dirce, who was trampled to death under a bull for her impiety. A characteristic shared by all three figures was that artists often portrayed them with bared breasts. My current goal is to explore this complex topic in an interdisciplinary book entitled The Breast Revealed, which will include analyses of historical and mythological figures. As a springboard into this project I am working on an article-length manuscript “Roma, and the Virtuous Breast”.
The Goddess Roma was the embodiment of Rome and a complex figure who symbolized political and religious ideas. Numerous studies have identified Roma's appearance using attributes such as her helmet, weapons, globes, and trophies. However, one attribute that scholars have overlooked is her revealed breast. The majority of representations of Roma as a complete figure, either standing or sitting, portrayed her as an Amazon with one breast exposed. Her Amazon costume, deriving from a long tradition in Greek art, did not necessitate revealing the breast; artists and patrons chose her guise purposefully. My research explores possible interpretations of the revealed breast in images of Roma as they developed and standardized in the early imperial period.