John T. Paoletti Travel Research Fellowships
in Art History

Funds are available to support student research and travel in the summer following the junior year that will result in a senior thesis project. Only current juniors who are working with art history faculty and who will complete a senior thesis are eligible. These funds are made available through a gift from Judith Gurewich P’05, P’10 to the Art History Program at Wesleyan University in honor of John T. Paoletti, Kenan Professor of the Humanities, Emeritus and Professor of Art History, Emeritus. Paoletti Research Travel Fellowships are intended for advanced students who have demonstrated a commitment to art historical study and a strong aptitude for writing and research. In addition to a solid background in art history and knowledge of relevant foreign languages, students must have formulated an original, coherent, and methodologically informed research project related to the study of art objects, material culture, cultural sites, and/or architecture. Applicants must demonstrate that travel to archives and to specific collections and/or sites is necessary in order to complete successfully the proposed project. For application information and procedures, please click on the following link: John T. Paoletti Travel Research Fellowships in Art History

Gabby Farina ‘23

The Aesthetic of the Feminine: Female Spaces in the Art and Architecture of Al-Andalus

The female body has both physically and metaphorically been used as a marker of space in Islamic Spain, creating a delineation of female space within monuments such as the Alhambra, the Royal Chapel of Granada, and Madinat al-Zahra. By centering architectural spaces concerned with the visibility of gender in al-Andalus, this thesis investigates the aesthetic of the feminine, considering how women were often seen as the source of inspiration for monuments, but generally made to be passive subjects in the building and construction process. It acts as an entry point to study larger questions of the development of the Gothic style in Spain, religious dialogues between Muslim and Christian cultures, and the agency of medieval female makers and patrons in al-Andalus. As María Elena Díez Jorge states, there is “a historiographical void when it comes to analyzing the architecture of al-Andalus from a gender perspective;” this project aims to fill part of this gap, rethinking gender-based approaches to medieval art through an exploration of how the aesthetic of the beautiful is connected to gendered space.

Sarah Hale ‘23

Engravings of Dante's Commedia in Wesleyan’s 1481 Incunable

This project centers around Olin Library’s incunable containing Dante Alighieri’s Commedia and the first edition of Cristoforo Landino’s Comento sopra la Commedia printed in Florence in 1481 by Niccolò di Lorenzo della Magna and financed by Bernardo degli Alberti. From its inception, the 1481 incunable was fully steeped in the Florentine humanist tradition and intended to increase esteem for Dante as one of Florence’s greatest vernacular authors. Florence was Dante’s own city, yet the city’s rather critical representation in the poem and the poem’s sheer magnitude meant that this was the first edition to be printed in Florence, though, by 1481, printing had been present in the city for over a decade. Out of the intended 100 engravings, the Wesleyan incunable contains two original engravings, eleven-line drawings, and two later engravings. This unique assortment of illustrations highlights the difficulties of combining two separate printing processes: the relief printing of the type and the intaglio printing of the illustrations. This project examines the complicated relationships that developed between authors, artists, and printers as they worked together to use new technologies to foreground Florentine greatness and reclaim Dante Alighieri, the city’s most renowned exile.

Mim Pomerantz ‘23

Surrealism, Ethnography, and Photography 

Following World War I, Surrealist artists rejected the rationalism and empiricism they saw as leading to this violence. One strategy they employed to combat these ways of thinking was a turn toward cultures they viewed as “primitive,” specifically those in Africa, Oceana, and the Americas. Methodologies and collections of objects from anthropology and other human sciences were often the entry point for Surrealist artists’ interest in non-Western cultures. Important contradictions emerge between the anti-colonial politics of Surrealism and its engagement with ethnography. Photography was important as a tool of colonial ethnography and a mediating force between Surrealist sensibilities and the Western study of African and Oceanic people and objects. Anti-colonialism was a ubiquitously espoused political stance among the Surrealists. Even so, their artistic output around this issue ranged from critiques of ethnography and photography as tools of colonialism to the wholesale commodification of African material culture. This project examines the relationship between Surrealism, ethnography, and photography. Three case studies demonstrate the range of ways issues of ethnography and “primitive” art were engaged with through photography: appropriated ethnographic photographs published in the surrealist periodicals Documents (September 1932); Man Ray’s 1937 Mode au Congo series; and Belgian Surrealist Raoul Ubac’s Penthésilée photomontages (1937-39).


Previous recipients since the fellowship's founding in 2012:

2021: Josh Merkin, Art History Major and Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory Certificate 

Project title: The Body and the Archive: Contemporary Performance Art as Institutional Critique 

2021: Ann Zhang, Art History, Psychology, Science in Society Triple Major

Project title: 1920’s Shanghai, Reimagined & Recreated in 2020: Preservation & Gentrification of Wukang Mansion and the Surrounding Area in Former French Concession

2020 Maya Hayda, Art History and English Double Major

Project title: "Reshaped and Reframed: Art, Industry, and the Changing American Landscape"

2020 Riley Richards, Art History Major and History Minor

Project title: "Newcomb Pottery: Women and Enterprise in the American Arts and Crafts Movement"

2019 Emma Frohardt, Art History Major, Hispanic Literatures and Cultures Major

Project title: "Art as Cultural Critic: Surveillance, Authorship and Collectivism in the Oeuvre of Equipo Crónica, 1964-81"

2019 Olivia Samios, Art History Major, French Studies Major

Project title: "The Nordic Home as a Total Work of Art: Codifications of Nationalism in Norwegian Home Design, 1880-1905"

2018 Sara Kim, Art History Major, College of East Asian Studies Minor and Data Analysis Minor

Project title: "The Impact of Jesuit Missionaries on the New Visual Culture in Japan: Namban Byōbu in the 16th and 17th Centuries"

2018 Rachel Rosin, Art History and English Double Major

Project title: "Mary Cassatt & the Impressionist Exhibitions: Defining 19th Century 'Girlhood'"

2017 Nicole Boyd, Art History and Italian Studies Double Major with a Writing Certificate

Project title: "Compositional Cross-Dressing: The Figures of Guido Cagnacci, the Pursuit of Invention, and the Construction of Artistic Identity in 17th Century Italy"

2017 Emily Furnival, College of Letters Major

Project title: "Fictitious Friars, Reconstructed Romans: The Architecture and Experience of the Getty Villa and Met Cloisters"

2017 Juntai Shen, Art History and College of Social Studies Double Major

Project title: "Modern vs. Rural: The Chinese Rural Architecture & Modernization since 1978--Three Case Studies"

2016 Nathan Johnson, Art History and College of Letters Double Major

Project title: "Purvis Young, Lonnie Holley, and Thornton Dial: When Outsider Artists Become Insiders"

2016 Sharifa Lookman, Art History and College of Letters Double Major

Project title: "Non finito: Botticelli and the Status of Drawing in the Italian Renaissance 'Here It Behoves Us, Use A Little Art'"

2015 Bryan Schiavone, Art History Major

Project title: "The Tree as Cultural Pillar Throughout Indian Art History"

2014 Rachel Hirsch, Art History and French Studies Double Major

Project title: "Mughal Illustrations of Hindu Epics: Tracing Iconographic Sources of the Razmnama and the Ramayana to the Indic Visual Landscape"

2013 Grace Kuipers, Art History Major

Project title: "The Philosophy Behind the Wall: Modernism, Industrialism, Primitivism and Albert Barnes' Wall Ensembles"

2012 Zoe Mueller, University Major with a Concentration in Urban Studies

Project title: "Highway Adaptation and Appropriation: Grassroots Transformation of Visual Culture in the American Rust Belt"