The University of Massachusetts Amherst
HFA - College of Humanities & Fine Arts view HFA submenu
Section Menu

Sonja Drimmer

Associate Professor | Medieval Art

Sonja Drimmer

(413) 545-3603

South College W315

Sonja Drimmer is a historian of medieval art and architecture, whose research focuses principally on non-devotional manuscript illumination of the later Middle Ages (c.1350-1500). Her interests include issues of authorship, mediation, and the material conditions of cultural production, including literature and political expression. Drimmer's monograph, The Art of Allusion: Illuminators and the Making of English Literature, 1403-1476 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), is the first art historical study dedicated to the emergence of the Middle English literary canon as an illustrated corpus. It received High Commendation for Exemplary Scholarship in the pre-1600 Category of the Historians of British Art Book Prize and was supported by publication grants from ICMA-Kress, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and the College Art Association Millard Meiss Publication Fund.

While continuing to examine and publish on illuminated manuscripts of vernacular literature, she is currently at work on a second monograph devoted to the visual and material culture of politics in England at the end of the Middle Ages. This project, Art and Political Visuality in Late Medieval England, concentrates on disparate and long-overlooked objects that mediated persuasive expression during this period, objects that solicited from viewers and even instructed them in a political apprehension of the world. Her articles and essays in both these subject areas have appeared in the Journal for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Gesta, Viator, Exemplaria, the Memoirs of the American Academy of Rome, Burlington Magazine, the British Library Journal, LIAS, the Journal for the Early Book Society, and numerous edited collections.

Her research has received support and awards from the National Humanities Center, the Healey Endowment, the British Academy, the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Warburg Institute, and many other institutions. She is also a founding member of the Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography. In 2019 she was recognized with the Medieval Academy of America’s CARA Award for Excellence in Teaching as well as a College Outstanding Teaching Award from UMass Amherst.

In her teaching, Drimmer takes an expansive approach, covering art produced in Europe, the Levant, and northern Africa between c.500 to 1500. She also enjoys collaborating with the librarians and archivists at the Du Bois Library to hold hands-on seminars on manuscript illumination in Special Collections and University Archives.

Research Areas

Medieval Art


For copies of Professor Drimmer’s publications and a recent CV, please visit her page.

Courses Recently Taught

Courses Recently Taught

  • ART-HIST 305/605 Early Medieval Art
  • ART-HIST 307/607 Romanesque and Gothic Art
  • ART-HIST 392m The Medieval Art of Death
  • ART-HIST 705 The Lost Art of Medieval Britain: Absence and Recovery
  • ART-HIST 705 The Art of the Book: Late Medieval Manuscript Illumination 
  • ART-HIST 781 Graduate Methods of Art History