Three VU Professors Receive SEC Visiting Faculty Travel Grant

Betsey Robinson, associate professor of history of art, Robin Jensen, Luce Chancellor’s Professor of the History of Christian Art and Worship, and David Michelson, assistant professor of early Christianity at the Divinity School, received a grant from the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Visiting Faculty Travel Grant Program to participate in a regional workshop on Cultures of the Late Antique Mediterranean. The workshop will be held at the host institution, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, on October 31-November 1. Participants will present current research, plan future workshops, and discuss possibilities for collaboration in teaching and research.

Robinson, also affiliated with the department of classical studies, will address “The Culture of Water in Late Antique Corinth: Recent Work and Future Currents.” Since 1997 she has conducted research at the Corinth Excavations of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, focusing on water supply, architecture, and works of art in context. Her book, Histories of Peirene: A Corinthian Fountain in Three Millennia (Princeton: ASCSA 2011), won the 2011 PROSE Prize for Archaeology and Anthropology. Jensen, also professor of history of art, will present “The Visual Turn in Patristic Scholarship: Past Missteps and New Promise.” Most of her research and publication focuses on the interpretation of early Christian art and architecture in light of its theological significance, ritual performance, and cultural context.

Michelson’s topic is “New Models for Collaborative Research on Late Antiquity: The Digital Humanities Tools of Syriaca.org.” Michelson, also affiliated with the department of classical studies, is investigating how neglected historical sources in Syriac (a dialect of Aramaic) offer new perspectives on the history of Christianity. To make the history of Syriac sources and culture better known, Michelson is directing the creation of an online reference project, The Syriac Reference Portal.

“Hopefully the workshop will be just the first of a number of new opportunities for scholars from the Southeast and South who work on any aspect of Late Antiquity—art and architecture, literature and languages, history, and religion,” said Robinson. “We hope to build on work already done in the UT Seminar in Late Antiquity sponsored by the Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.”

The Southeastern Conference (SEC) Visiting Faculty Travel Grant Program is intended to enhance faculty collaboration that stimulates scholarly initiatives between SEC member universities. It gives faculty from one SEC institution the opportunity to travel to another SEC campus to exchange ideas, develop grant proposals, conduct research, consult with faculty and/or students, offer lectures or symposia, or engage in whatever activities are agreeable to the visitor and host unit.

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