History of Art and Architecture

Shirin Fozi

Associate Professor

Area of Specialization

Medieval European Art and Architecture


Constellation(s): Identity, Mobility/Exchange, Temporalities

Shirin Fozi spends as much time as possible looking at medieval things, with a focus on visual culture in Germany and France during the tenth through twelfth centuries.  Her primary interest is monumental sculpture: its patterns of production, its use of motifs from other media, and its reception in the post-medieval world.  In recent years these interests have led her to complete a book on figural tomb effigies (Penn State, forthcoming) and also co-edit a volume on large-scale sculptures of the crucified Christ (Brepols, 2020).  Her current research grapples with a series of architectural sculptures that echo Mediterranean visual traditions but are found at sites far north of the Alps.  Some of this newer work comes out of an ongoing interest in ivories, rock crystals, and other luxurious materials that circulated across vast trade networks in an era associated with traveling pilgrims and crusaders.

These interests are integrated into the courses Fozi teaches at Pitt, which range from introductory surveys to graduate seminars.  While Fozi’s research mostly centers on the period ca. 900-1200, and gravitates towards the Harz region of Germany, her teaching covers the Middle Ages from ca. 300-1500 and she is working to broaden the geographic range of every class she offers.  Fozi balances teaching medieval art with offering core courses in HAA and also Museum Studies; she especially enjoys leading the “History and Ethics of Collecting” seminar because it examines big questions about the ownership and ethical management of cultural property.  In Fall 2017 Fozi’s exhibition seminar culminated in a show on the Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning, and she has many ideas for future University Art Gallery installations that will respond creatively to the presence of medievalist art and architecture in Pittsburgh.

Before joining the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh, Fozi was a Mellon postdoctoral fellow in medieval art at Northwestern (2010-13).  During her time as a graduate student at Harvard, Fozi also served an intern and lecturer at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, a museum teacher at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and a curatorial intern at Dumbarton Oaks.  These early experiences helped shape her commitment to connecting students with museum collections; in recent years she has organized class excursions to see medieval exhibitions in cities including Chicago, Cleveland, New York, and Toronto.  Together with her colleagues, Fozi works hard to secure funding from Pitt to ensure these opportunities are accessible for as many Pitt students as possible.

Education Details

Ph.D. Harvard University (2010)
M.A. Harvard University (2005)
B.A. Williams College (2001)

Selected Publications

Romanesque Tomb Effigies: Death and Redemption in Northern Europe, 1000-1200.  University Park: Penn State University Press, in production.

Christ on the Cross: The Boston Crucifix and the Rise of Medieval Wood Sculpture, 970-1200, edited with Gerhard Lutz.  Studies in the Visual Cultures of the Middle Ages, vol. 14.  Turnhout: Brepols, 2020.

“Reinhildis has died: Ascension and Enlivenment on a Twelfth-Century Tomb,” Speculum 90/1 (January 2015), 158-94.

"A Mere Patch of Color: Isabella Stewart Gardner and the Shattered Glass of Reims Cathedral." Memory, Commemoration, and Medieval Europe, edited by Elma Brenner, Meredith Cohen, and Mary Franklin-Brown. Ashgate (2013), pp. 321-44.

Selected Awards

Millard Meiss Publication Fund Grant, College Art Association, Spring 2019, for Romanesque Tomb Effigies.

John G. Bowman Travel Grant for Faculty Research, University of Pittsburgh, 2018.

Article of the Month, Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index, February 2015, for “Reinhildis Has Died.”

Romanik-Forschungspreis for the best unpublished dissertation on a high medieval topic in any humanistic discipline. Europäisches Romanik Zentrum, Merseburg, Germany, 2011.