Four HART Professors Celebrate Service Anniversaries

The History of Art Department recognizes four professors who are celebrating service anniversaries this year. Robin Jensen, the Luce Chancellor’s Professor of the History of Christian Art and Worship, and Christopher Johns, the Norman L. and Roselea J. Goldberg Professor of Art, have each taught at Vanderbilt for ten years. Mireille Lee, assistant professor of history of art, and Betsey Robinson, associate professor of history of art, are both celebrating their fifth year of teaching at the university.

Robin Jensen teaches courses in our department and at the Divinity School. Most of her research and publications focus on the interpretation of early Christian art and architecture in light of its theological significance, ritual performance, and cultural context. Her most recent books are Living Water: Images, Symbols, and Settings of Early Christian Baptism (Brill Publishers, 2011), and Baptismal Imagery in Early Christianity (Baker Academic Press, 2012). She has co-authored a book with her husband, Patout Burns, The Practice of Christianity in Roman Africa (Eerdmans, early 2014), and is completing a monograph on early Christian iconography titled The Epiphanic Character of Early Christian Art.

Her courses include introductions to Jewish and Christian pictorial hermeneutics; visual representations of God, the Trinity, Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the saints; the religious art of late antiquity; and the art of the early Roman Empire. She also teaches an introduction to liturgy and regularly offers courses on sacred time and space. This semester Jensen is teaching Art of the Empire from Constantine to Justinian, an interdisciplinary study of the art and architecture in the Roman Empire (fourth through sixth centuries) in the context of political and religious transformations during that era.

Fascinated by the relationship between art and politics, particularly in the context of art patronage, Christopher Johns attempts to explain the public motivations for commissioning works of art in early modern Europe. He has published books and articles on the relationship between art and politics, the history of art academies and patronage, cultural exchanges between Europe and East Asia in the eighteenth century, and on the role of religion in art. His book Visual Culture of Catholic Enlightenment: Papal Art in Eighteenth-Century Rome is under contract at Penn State University Press, and China and the Church: Chinoiserie in Global Context is to be published by the University of Washington Press.

His broader research interests include the development of museums, and art, travel and the global commodities exchange in the eighteenth century, above all the trade in porcelain. This semester he is teaching a seminar, Romanticism and the British National Landscape, 1800-1850, that explores the Romantic landscape tradition in Britain from its origins in the last decades of the eighteenth century until its last flowering in the art of Joseph Mallord William Turner.

Mireille Lee, also an assistant professor of classical studies, teaches courses on the art and archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean, including Egypt. Lee is on leave for the academic year 2013-2014. A specialist in Greek art and archaeology, she has a particular interest in the construction of gender in ancient visual and material culture.

She has published widely on the social functions of dress in ancient Greece as they can be reconstructed from the visual, archaeological, and textual sources. Her first monograph, Bodies, Dress, and Identity in Ancient Greece, will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2014. She is also a co-editor of Bodies and Boundaries in Graeco-Roman Antiquity (De Gruyter, 2009).

Betsey Robinson, also an associate professor of classical studies, recently received the Chancellor’s Award for Research. Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos recognized Robinson for her groundbreaking research in classical archaeology and art history, citing her monograph, Histories of Peirene: A Corinthian Fountain in Three Millennia (American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2011), which won the prestigious PROSE Award for Archaeology and Anthropology by the Professional Scholarly Publishing division of the Association of American Publishers.

Her current project, Divine Prospects: Mounts Helicon and Parnassus in Ancient Experience and Imagination, is a book-length manuscript on Hellenistic and Roman perceptions of, and engagement within, Greek landscapes and sanctuaries. Ongoing research considers Roman-era mosaics in Corinth, and the history of archaeological excavation in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Robinson teaches courses in the art, architecture, and archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean world. Her primary interests include Greek and Roman architecture and art, ancient cities and sanctuaries, and landscapes—actual, imagined, and as represented in ancient art and literature. This semester she is teaching a course on Roman art and architecture and an advanced seminar on Roman painting and mosaics.

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