I was fortunate to have been awarded an SFDA by the School of Arts and Humanities at UT Dallas for the academic year 2015–16, and have used it to research and begin writing a book entitled The Bird’s-Eye View and the Viewer, concerning the links between the visual, technological, and rhetorical strategies employed by the precursor to the modern city map.
Anyone who has ever looked at maps recognizes the progression from the medieval “city icon” view to the Enlightenment-era ground plan to the satellite-based GPS matrices we regularly employ today.
My work concerns the moment when the purely visual mode of mapping began to insist not only upon the verisimilitude of the viewer’s experience but also of the mechanical measurements that made it possible. Addressing the means by which territory was surveyed, measured, and depicted, my study rethinks the way artists and cartographers chose to orient their viewers towards landscapes both familiar and foreign.
As research for this project, I’ve held short-term residential fellowships in the past year from the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. In addition, I was invited by the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art in Paris to participate in the “Allegory and Topography in the Early Modern Period (16th-18th Centuries)” symposium, held in June 2016, at which I presented a section of the book project, “The Pierre Levée of Poitiers as Allegorical Site in the Civitates orbis terrarum.”
My forthcoming publications include an archive-based study of the early–seventeenth century “Sultan” Jachia ben Mehmet, published in the edited volume The Grand Ducal Medici and Their Archive (Turnhout: Harvey Miller, 2016), and a detailed analysis of the maritime-themed façade of the late Seicento Venetian church of Santa Maria del Giglio. During the past year, I presented at the Meadows Museum colloquium Alba: Lives and Afterlives of a Historic Collection and spoke on Guercino’s Christ and the Woman of Samaria at the Sixteenth Century Society Conference in Vancouver and at the painting’s home institution, the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. I also serve on the board of the Italian Art Society and as the society’s webmaster.
Associate Professor of Aesthetic Studies