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Kaja J. Tally-Schumacher*12

Doctoral student, Department of History of Art and Visual Studies, Cornell University.

Kaja J. Tally-Schumacher is currently a Ph.D. Candidate at Cornell University in the History Art and Visual Studies Department working on a doctorate in Roman Art and Archaeology.  Kaja’s primary research interests include ancient Roman gardens, interactions between public and private spaces, the replication of architectural forms and their translations, and ancient funerary art and architecture.  Her secondary research interest includes Renaissance reinterpretations of antiquity and early twentieth-century modernist architecture.  Her forthcoming publications look at the garden painting from Livia’s villa at Prima Porta, the pottery from the House of Augustus on the Palatine, and the relationship of walking to ancient garden design.    

Kaja began her doctoral work at Cornell in 2012 after having completed her M.A. at UMass earlier that year, where she had worked with Drs. Laetitia La Follette and Timothy Rohan.  One of the major and lasting strengths of the UMass M.A. program that has stayed with Kaja during her doctoral work has been the incredibly thorough foundation she received in art, ranging from ancient to contemporary.  The course requirements of the curriculum and comprehensive exams stress a familiarity with all art historical periods and media.  This broad, holistic approach exposed Kaja to many methodologies, theories, and questions that are less common in her own field and has helped her to think about her own work in new ways.  This training also has very real professional implications, such as providing the necessary foundation to instruct thoughtful survey courses or to work in a museum context where one is exposed to many historical periods and different types of media.

Kaja also believes that the collegiality of the faculty and welcoming atmosphere of the department was no doubt one of the foundations for the excellent training she received.  One does not work with a just a single faculty member at UMass; every professor is invested in the success of all students.   Likewise, the graduate students worked closely together, supporting one another, providing peer feedback on work, and helping one another by sharing and recommending resources in preparation for their comprehensive exams. 

The M.A. program is also rich in research resources.  The Five Colleges library consortium, particularly with access to Smith’s and Holyoke’s wonderful art history collections, provides an unparalleled level of art historical resources.  The regular trips to Met also provide an excellent opportunity to interact with objects as well as to discuss museology issues relevant both to those continuing on to a doctoral program and those entering the museum/gallery world.