Katherine Calvin joined Kenyon's faculty in 2020 after completing her Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research and teaching areas include early modern art and visual culture; the history of museums and the art market; and cross-cultural exchange between Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In her current work, she uses feminist methods and critical race theory to interrogate questions of value, both aesthetic and financial, in relation to early modern antiquarianism, print culture, and imperial mercantile networks connecting the Eastern Mediterranean and Europe with West Africa and the Caribbean. She is particularly interested in the patronage and collecting activities of individuals associated with British early modern merchant companies. 

Calvin’s research has been published in Eighteenth-Century Studies, Journal18, and Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture. She is currently preparing her first book, "Antiquarian Speculations: Art, Credit, and Collecting between Europe and the Ottoman Empire, 1660-1830." The project links ongoing repatriation disputes to early modern financial speculation and collecting practices, particularly by Europeans in the Ottoman Empire. It examines how money generated by merchant companies, such as the British Levant Company, through risky and often exploitative investments financed new expeditions to ancient sites such as Palmyra and Athens. 

During her leave from Kenyon in 2023-24, Calvin will continue her research as a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the Newberry Library; as a Mayers Fellow at the Huntington Library and Art Museum; and as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. Her work has also been supported by fellowships and grants from the Lewis Walpole Library, the UCLA Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies, and the Association of Print Scholars. 

Areas of Expertise

Eighteenth-century art, feminist art history, early modern cultural exchange


2020 — Doctor of Philosophy from University of North Carolina

2015 — Master of Arts from University of North Carolina

2013 — Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University

Courses Recently Taught

This course surveys Western art and architecture from the Renaissance to the present. Framing the study of art history within a social context, this course provides students with the tools for understanding style and interpreting meaning in individual works of art. Although this is a lecture format, discussion is encouraged. This counts toward the 100-level course requirement and Europe and Americas place requirements for the major. No prerequisite. Offered every semester.

This course explores the diversity of African art created on the continent and throughout the diaspora, from antiquity to the contemporary period. Students examine artworks from both north and south of the Sahara representing an array of media and techniques, including sculpture, architecture, painting, photography, textiles and performance art. Class sessions combine lecture and discussion to investigate key topics such as the significance of visual abstraction; art’s role in constructing (and contesting) ideas about the body, gender and sexuality; and the relationship between art and politics in the colonial and postcolonial periods. Ongoing debates about the problematic categories of “tribal” and “tourist” art in Africa, as well as “primitivism” in the West, are examined in relation to questions of authenticity and appropriation. We will also critically evaluate the political and aesthetic contexts in which African art has been exhibited in museums. Students are introduced to methods of art historical analysis and writing. This counts toward the 100-level course requirement and Africa and Middle East place requirements for the major. No prerequisite.

This course focuses on the art and architecture of 16th-century Italy, a period often associated with both "High Renaissance" and "Mannerist" art. We examine these stylistic categories and attend to the works of influential artists and architects such as Leonardo, Bramante, Titian, Sofonisba Anguissola, Michelangelo and Cellini, among others. Issues such as patronage, politics, sexuality and cultural exchange are examined in lectures and class discussions to shed light on the varied artistic production of this period. These topics are considered in relation to the century's broader historical developments, notably the Reformation and expansion of European imperialism, using a variety of art historical and interdisciplinary methods. This counts toward the Europe and Americas place and the 600-1800 time requirements for the major. Prerequisite: any 100-level ARHS course.

This course focuses on the art, architecture and visual culture of the 17th century, starting in Rome and spreading outward to other parts of Europe and the early modern world. Lecture and class discussion analyze the innovations of artists such as Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Artemisia Gentileschi, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Peter Paul Rubens, Judith Leyster and Nicolas Poussin, among many others. We also explore Baroque art in relation to the Catholic Reformation and expansion of Protestantism, European imperialism, the politics of absolute rule and revolution, the economics of art markets and cultural exchange, and aesthetic judgments about art. This counts toward the Europe and Americas place and the 600-1800 time requirements for the major. Prerequisite: any 100-level ARHS course.

This course examines the visual arts of Africa and the African diaspora from the early modern period to the present using historical and theoretical frameworks of mobility, exchange and circulation. During lectures and class discussions, students examine a wide variety of art from this period that was made to be -- or has become -- mobile in a number of ways. We analyze arts meant to be worn on the body such as clothing, textiles, masks and jewelry. The role of photography, film and other new media in circulating information about these wearable arts also is considered. Additional subjects include objects and spaces influenced by or created for international exchange; the art and visual culture of the Black Atlantic; contemporary performance art by artists working on the continent or in the diaspora; the history of collecting and selling African art; and current debates about restitution and repatriation. This counts toward the Africa and the Middle East place requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ARHS 116.

This seminar serves as an introduction to the field of museum studies. Consisting primarily of readings, discussions, assigned papers and special projects, the course historicizes the role of the museum, analyzes the nature of the museum audience and studies the representation and display of different cultures. Prerequisite: any 100-level ARHS course.