Hello! I’m a medieval art historian specializing in Sicilian and southern Italian art and architecture. I’ve recently returned to Ithaca, NY for the academic year, where I’m working on my first book project, In Pursuit of Magnificence: Art & Literature in Medieval Sicily, finishing an article on the crafting of painted ceilings, dusting off my Latin, and working on my half plot in the Ithaca Community Gardens.
A bit of bio:
For the 2019-2020 AY, I moved to Tacoma, WA to work in the Art & Art History Department of the University of Puget Sound, a small liberal arts college about 30 miles south of Seattle. As a Visiting Assistant Professor, I taught a range of courses, including Methods of Art History, Ancient to Medieval Art (Honors Program), the first part of the survey (Prehistoric to Medieval Art), and a specialised seminar of my own design, Port Cities of the Medieval Mediterranean.
Port Cities primarily focused on urban history from 600-1600 CE, but I included a module that treats the city and the Salish Sea (or Puget Sound) as an extended classroom. Students committed to three Saturday field trips to explore the sea itself, indigenous navigation, and Tacoma’s fresh water supply at the Green River Filtration Plant. Students also engaged with texts that introduced ecocriticism, explored superfund rehabilitation, and analyzed regional flood mitigation plans – all of which shifted our prospective from the medieval littoral to contemporary U.S. issues in water management and conservation.
In late April-early May, I chaired a session at the first virtual Society of Architectural Historians meeting with Prof. Sarah Kozlowski (Edith O’Donnell Center for Art History; Center for the Art and Architectural History of Port Cities in Naples, Italy). Our session, “Architecture and Mediation in Medieval Port Cities: Italy and the Mediterranean,” brought together Prof. Elizabeth Kasslar-Taub (Dartmouth University) and Prof. Joseph Williams (University of Maryland) to speak about the port of Palermo and medieval Adriatic ports, respectively.
My summer plans to travel to New Haven have been postponed to summer 2021. The Renaissance Society of America awarded me with a Kress-Beinecke Library Fellowship to support preliminary research on my second book project, Routes of Rejoicing: Ceremonial Practices in Medieval Port Cities (1200-1500), which will scrutinize cultural and mercantile exchanges on Mediterranean waterfronts, such as Jerba, Tunis, Palermo, and Bari. This multidisciplinary study will trace the complex relationship between diplomacy and urban planning in a series of cases, highlighting the political impact and aesthetic considerations of public-facing strategies (e.g. street performances, parades, festivals, and executions) used to consolidate power and control mercantile enterprises.
In Spring 2019, I worked as an adjunct instructor in the Art History departments of Drexel University and an adjunct professor at the Tyler School of Art of Temple University, both in Philadelphia. At Drexel, I taught the second installment of their three-part “Survey of Western Art;” at Tyler I developed a 7-week Writing Intensive course that investigated the cultural history of Mediterranean port cities.
A generous grant from the International Center of Medieval Art afforded me the opportunity to continue my research in Sicily in Summer 2019 as I continue preparing my first book, In Pursuit of Magnificence: Art & Literature in Medieval Sicily.
Between September 2017 and November 2018, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the KHI in Florence, Italy in the Department of Prof. Dr. Gerhard Wolf. Prior to that position, I held a two-year appointment as a Pre-Doctoral Research Assistant (Wissenschaftliche Assistentin) in the same Department.
While in Florence, I completed my Ph.D. in 2017 and M.A. in 2012 at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) in the Department of History of Art and Visual Studies, specializing in medieval Italian art and architecture with minor fields in medieval Islamic art and literature and medieval Italian literature.
Above: A view eastward of the painted ceiling of the Sala Magna, painted by maestri Simone da Corleone, Cecco di Naro, and Pellegrino Darena di Palermo between 1377-1380, commissioned by Grand Admiral Manfredi III Chiaramonte. Palazzo Chiaramonte-Steri, Palermo, Sicily. Photo: K. Streahle.
Left: Detail of painted wooden muqarnas ceiling, central nave of the Cappella Palatina, consecrated 1140. Palazzo dei Normanni, Palermo, Sicily. Photo: K. Streahle.