Melissa Dabakis teaches American and modern European art history, serves as a member of the American studies faculty and currently chairs the Department of Art History. She is the founding director of the Kenyon-Rome Program, and she will serve as its resident director again the fall of 2018.

She is the author of "Visualizing Labor in American Sculpture: Monuments, Manliness, and the Work Ethic, 1880-1935" (Cambridge University Press, 1999, paperback and digital editions, 2011, Arabic translation, 2017) and, more recently, "A Sisterhood of Sculptors: American Artists in Nineteenth-Century Rome" (The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2014, paperback edition 2015).

In the 2013-2014 academic year, Dabakis was the Terra Foundation Senior Fellow in American Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She has also held fellowships from the Huntington Library, the United States Capitol Historical Society, the J. Paul Getty Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is a co-organizer of two international conferences, sponsored by the Terra Foundation for American Art: "Hybrid Republicanism: Italy and American Art, c. 1848-1918," hosted by the American Academy in Rome on October 6-7, 2016," and "The Course of Empires: American-Italian Cultural Relations, 1770-1980," held at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. on October 19-20, 2017. 

In April 2015, Dabakis was interviewed about "A Sisterhood of Sculptors" for the blog "New Books in Gender Studies." Listen to or download her interview at newbooksingenderstudies.com. She was recently interviewed by the U.S. Capitol Visitor's Center about a sculpture from "A Sister of Sculptors." You can listen to the podcast here http://visitthecapitol.gov/blog/article/vinnie-ream-and-senate-debate.

Download the "Hybrid Republicanism: Italy and American Art, 1840-1918" conference brochure (PDF).

Download the "The Course of Empires: American-Italian Cultural Relations, 1770-1980" conference brochure (PDF).

Areas of Expertise

American and modern European art history.

Education

1987 — Doctor of Philosophy from Boston University

1980 — Master of Arts from Boston University

1977 — Bachelor of Arts from Univ Connecticut

Courses Recently Taught

This course explores specific problems in American art and architecture. Topics include Modernism and the Great Depression, World War II and Abstract Expressionism and the relationship between art and politics broadly speaking. When possible, students will utilize regional museum collections. Assignments will include seminar reports, class discussion and a research paper. This course is the same as ARHS 378D. This counts toward the advanced course requirement for the major and must be taken as ARHS 378D to count towards the fine arts requirement. This course can be repeated up to two times for credit, so long as they cover different topics. Prerequisite: ARHS 111, 227D, AMST 109 or equivalent.

This course provides an overview of the history, culture and art of Rome from antiquity to the 18th century, with some forays into modern Rome. Classroom instruction will complement visits to different sites in the city of Rome and its environs, Florence, Naples and Pompeii. Guest lectures will focus on specific issues in ancient, medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and modern art and architecture in Rome. We will examine the formation of great art collections like that of the Borghese Gallery, the Vatican Museums, and the Capitoline collections. Students will be expected to write about art from all historical epochs. This course is only open to students in the Kenyon-Rome program. This counts toward the intermediate course requirement for the major. ARHS 110 or 111 is highly recommended. Permission of instructor required. No prerequisite.

This seminar serves as an introduction to the field of museum studies. Consisting primarily of readings, discussions, assigned papers and special projects, the course will historicize the role of the museum, analyze the nature of the museum audience and study the representation and display of different cultures. This counts toward the advanced course requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ARHS 111 and sophomore standing.

This course explores specific problems in American art and architecture. Topics include Modernism and the Great Depression, World War II and Abstract Expressionism and the relationship between art and politics broadly speaking. When possible, students will utilize regional museum collections. Assignments will include seminar reports, class discussion and a research paper. This course is the same as AMST 378D. This counts toward the advanced course requirement for the major and must be taken as ARHS 378D to count towards the fine arts requirement. This course can be repeated up to two times for credit, so long as they cover different topics. Prerequisite: ARHS 111, 227D, AMST 109 or equivalent.

Honors is for students with demonstrated ability to work on a research project under the supervision of a faculty member. Minimum 3.33 cumulative GPA and a minimum 3.5 major GPA. Students undertaking an honors thesis must have had at least one (and preferably two) intermediate or advanced courses at Kenyon in the topic area. Endorsement of the project by the proposed thesis advisor is mandatory before submitting an application for honors. Previous completion of a research paper in art history (preferably in the area of honors specialization) is essential. Meeting the minimum GPA does not automatically qualify a student for Honors. Typically, if a student has written an exceptionally well-researched and well-written art history paper, and meets the other criteria for acceptance into Honors, a professor might suggest that the student undertake a related topic as an honors thesis. Alternately, students can discuss pursuing an honors thesis with their academic advisor and a potential thesis advisor. The project must be supervised by an art history professor who agrees and is available to serve as the honors thesis advisor and whose interests and expertise coincide with the proposed project. In either case, the student then works closely with the thesis advisor to develop a project proposal to be submitted to the art history faculty. Departmental approval must be obtained during the spring semester preceding work on the thesis. Permission of instructor and department chair are required.