Gretchen Holtzapple Bender


129 Frick Fine Arts

More Information

Assistant Chair and director of undergraduate studies; senior lecturer, modern European art and architectural history, world art, pedagogy

Constellation(s): Agency, Environment, Identity, Mobility/Exchange

As assistant chair and director of undergraduate studies for the department, Gretchen Holtzapple Bender devotes her attention to teaching, curriculum development and pedagogy, and oversees the educational and pre-professional advising of over 220 undergraduate majors in HAA and architectural studies. She has enjoyed teaching at the University of Pittsburgh since 2002, offering a wide range of courses including the introductory History of World Art that she designed, several courses in modern art and architecture, and research and writing seminars on feminism and art history, Romantic landscape, Berlin Architecture, and ‘Making Space: Agency, Identity and Representing Representation’. She has played a central role in the revision of the core curriculum in the undergraduate HAA program and established a developmental advising process for the department. New initiatives that she has implemented or overseen include HAAARCH!!!!, the annual departmental showcase that features undergraduate achievement, the Museum Studies minor and the Milton Fine Fellowships in Museum Professions, and the revision of the Preservation minor. Completing her dissertation at Bryn Mawr College under the guidance of Christiane Hertel, Bender’s research focuses on the landscape practice of Caspar David Friedrich in the context of a broader and emerging European visual culture. Specifically, she is interested in the gendering of place and embodied spectatorship in early 19th-century European culture. 


PhD, Bryn Mawr

Selected Publications

“Gaertner’s Compromise: Spectatorship and Social Order in the 1834 Panorama of Berlin,” journal article under review.

“Interior/Landscape: Placelessness and the Gendered Gaze in the Work of Caspar David Friedrich,” dissertation, Bryn Mawr College (Ann Arbor: UMI, 2001).

Selected Awards

AMPCO Pittsburgh Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising, The Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, 2013

Tina and David Bellet Teaching Excellence Award, School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, 2008.

Doris Sill Carland Prize for Excellence in Teaching, Bryn Mawr College, 1996

Phi Beta Kappa

Current Projects

Her most recent project is WHAAM – ‘Why the History of Art and Architecture Matters’ an outreach project that will work to extend art history into the classrooms of local public high schools. 

Longer term, Bender’s research project, Tracing Caroline: Women and Wandering in the Landscapes of Caspar David Friedrich, investigates a core group of paintings by the artist, all of which feature prominently men and women as observers: Woman at a Window, Woman Before a Setting Sun, Wanderer Above a Sea of Fog, and Chalk Cliffs at Rügen. She explores the role gender plays in the construction and reception of these landscape spaces and the relationship of women as spectators to the male Romantic wanderer. She also explorse the way in which Friedrich’s interest in nature as spectacle parallels the desire to intensify the visual experience in panoramas, dioramas, transparent pictures and other popular entertainments in the broader visual culture of this era, and how his interest in the experience of traveling intersects with the rise of tourism as a social practice. 

In addition to her research interests, Bender engages in collage and art book production, completing Proverbs in 2011 and The American Gun: The Intervention of Ceres in 2012.