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Research

Faculty Research

Margaret Vickery, Landscape and Infrastructure: Reimagining the Pastoral Paradigm for the Twenty-First Century (Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2019)

These seemingly disparate subjects are united by a shared concern for the pastoral middle ground; a traditionally productive landscape. By focusing an art-historical lens on pre-industrial productive systems and the effects of the Industrial Revolution on the pastoral landscape tradition, we can gain a better understanding of how to weave new approaches to productive infrastructure systems (such as power generation, water filtration and food production) into our contemporary landscapes. With rising demand for clean energy, clean water, and locally-grown food, this study offers a historical perspective on how such systems can be integrated into our suburban and urban areas. Vestigial elements of the pastoral tradition have long held aesthetic sway in our suburbs, cities and national parks, both in Britain and America. Now, as new energy and water related projects encroach on these spaces, remnants of the pastoral play a crucial role in convincing neighborhood residents, municipal leaders, and energy companies or water authorities of the benefits of a neighboring infrastructure.

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Sonja Drimmer, The Art of Allusion Illuminators and the Making of English Literature, 1403-1476 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018)

At the end of the fourteenth and into the first half of the fifteenth century Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, and John Lydgate translated and revised stories with long pedigrees in Latin, Italian, and French. Royals and gentry alike commissioned lavish manuscript copies of these works, copies whose images were integral to the rising prestige of English as a literary language. Yet despite the significance of these images, manuscript illuminators are seldom discussed in the major narratives of the development of English literary culture.
The newly enlarged scale of English manuscript production generated a problem: namely, a need for new images. Not only did these images need to accompany narratives that often had no tradition of illustration, they also had to express novel concepts, including ones as foundational as the identity and suitable representation of an English poet. In devising this new corpus, manuscript artists harnessed visual allusion as a method to articulate central questions and provide at times conflicting answers regarding both literary and cultural authority.

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Gülru Çakmak, Jean-Léon Gérôme and the Crisis of History Painting in the 1850s (Liverpool University Press, 2017) 

A crisis in historical representation unfolded in French visual culture in the first half of the nineteenth century, reaching its climax at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1855, when artists and critics alike came to a troubling realization: depictions of past heroes that had once held exceptional influence over their viewers now left the public indifferent. This book shows that underneath this crisis was a mounting demand for empirical observation in art, and an emergent modern epistemology that posited the past as foundational and yet inaccessible to the physically and historically specific individual. Since neither the painter nor the viewer could have actually experienced a bygone historical incident as it unfolded, was history painting even feasible in modern times? When historical representation seemed all but impossible to critics and artists of various hues, Gérôme came up with a momentous solution. A small group of paintings constitute the focus of this provocative study on the artist’s early work, whose pivotal role in Gérôme’s oeuvre as well as in the broader history of modernization of art have been so far unrecognized in art historical scholarship. In these, the artist charted a new roadmap for the art of painting in response to the modern sensibility of history.

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Walter B. Denny, How to Read Islamic Carpets  (Yale University Press, 2015)

Carpets made in the “Rug Belt”—an area that includes Morocco, North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and northern India—have been a source of fascination and collecting since the 13th century. This engaging and accessible book explores the history, design techniques, materials, craftsmanship, and socioeconomic contexts of these works, promoting a better understanding and appreciation of these frequently misunderstood pieces. Fifty-five examples of Islamic carpets are illustrated with new photographs and revealing details. The lively texts guide readers, teaching them “how to read” clues present in the carpets. Walter B. Denny situates these carpets within the cultural and social realm of their production, be it a nomadic encampment, a rural village, or an urban workshop. This is an essential guide for students, collectors, and professionals who want to understand the art of the Islamic carpet. 

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Laetitia La Follette, Negotiating Culture: Heritage, Ownership, and Intellectual Property (University of Massachusetts Press, 2013)​

Rival claims of ownership or control over various aspects of culture are a regular feature of our twenty-first-century world. Such debates are shaping disciplines as diverse as anthropology and archaeology, art history and museum studies, linguistics and genetics.This provocative collection of essays—a series of case studies in cultural ownership by scholars from a range of fields—explores issues of cultural heritage and intellectual property in a variety of contexts, from contests over tangible artifacts as well as more abstract forms of culture such as language and oral traditions to current studies of DNA and genes that combine nature and culture, and even new, nonproprietary models for the sharing of digital technologies. Each chapter sets the debate in its historical and disciplinary context and suggests how the approaches to these issues are changing or should change.

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Karen Kurczynski, The Art and Politics of Asger Jorn: The Avant-Garde Won't Give Up (Ashgate, 2014)

A leading figure of the postwar avant-garde, Danish artist Asger Jorn has long been recognized for his founding contributions to the Cobra and Situationist International movements - yet art historical scholarship on Jorn has been sparse, particularly in English. This study corrects that imbalance, offering a synthetic account of the essential phases of this prolific artist’s career. It addresses his works in various media alongside his extensive writings and his collaborations with various artists' groups from the 1940s through the mid-1960s.

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Timothy M. Rohan, The Architecture of Paul Rudolph (Yale University Press, 2014)

Equally admired and maligned for his remarkable Brutalist buildings, Paul Rudolph (1918–1997) shaped both late modernist architecture and a generation of architects while chairing Yale’s department of architecture from 1958 to 1965. Based on extensive archival research and unpublished materials, The Architecture of Paul Rudolph is the first in-depth study of the architect, neglected since his postwar zenith.

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