Alicia Walker

Professor of History of Art
Alicia Walker headshot


Phone 610-526-5405
Location Old Library 229
Office Hours
Tuesdays 9:00am-12:00pm



Ph.D. Harvard University, 2004
MA Harvard University, 1998
BA Bryn Mawr College, 1994

Areas of Focus

Medieval, Byzantine and Islamic Art


Professor Walker’s primary fields of research include cross-cultural artistic interaction in the medieval world from the ninth to thirteenth centuries and gender issues in the art and material culture of Byzantium. Her first monograph, The Emperor and the World: Exotic Elements and the Imaging of Middle Byzantine Imperial Power, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2012. She is co-editor of the essay collections Negotiating Secular and Sacred in Medieval Art. Christian, Islamic, Buddhist (Ashgate, 2009) and Mechanisms of Exchange: Transmission, Scale, and Interaction in the Arts and Architecture of the Medieval Mediterranean, 1000-1500 (Brill, 2012). She has published essays on topics including medieval inter-cultural artistic transmission, the role of women in Byzantine art and culture, and the function and meaning of early Byzantine marriage jewelry. Her work has appeared in journals including Muqarnas, Gesta, Ars Orientalis, Studies in Iconography, The Medieval History Journal, and The Art Bulletin.

Courses offerings

Professor Walker leads courses on Byzantine, medieval Islamic, and western medieval art and architecture and modern medievalism, including the following:


Introduction to Medieval Art and Architecture

Byzantine Textiles in Life, Death, and Afterlife

Introduction to Medieval Islamic Art and Architecture

The Art of the Global Middle Ages

Building Bryn Mawr


Gendered Objects, Gendered Images in Byzantium

Kings, Caliphs, and Emperors: Images of Authority in the Era of the Crusades

Surveying Byzantium

Byzantine Objects

Carthage: The View from Elsewhere

Sacred Spaces of Islam

Constantinople, Queen of Cities

Recent awards, grants, and fellowships:

Marie Neuberger Fund for the Study of Arts, Bryn Mawr College, 2017-2022, 2012-2017

The Alliance to Advance Liberal Arts Colleges (AALAC) Faculty Workshop Grant, 2018

The Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching, Bryn Mawr College, 2016

Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies, 2015 (held 2016-2017)

Graduate Faculty Mentorship Award, designated by the Graduate School of Arts and Science, Bryn Mawr College, 2014

Select Publications

Books and edited volumes

The Emperor and the World: Exotic Elements and the Imaging of Middle Byzantine Imperial Power (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

With Heather Grossman, Mechanisms of Exchange: Transmission, Scale, and Interaction in the Arts and Architecture of the Medieval Mediterranean, 1000-1500 (Brill, 2012).

With Amanda Luyster, Negotiating Secular and Sacred in Medieval Art. Christian, Islamic, Buddhist (Ashgate, 2009).

Recent public humanities projects

Co-director (with Christian Atiyeh), Re-excavating Carthage: Digitization and Online Publication of the White Fathers’ Archives (Rome), and editor of the online archive catalog: “The White Fathers at Carthage: The Collection of the General Archives, Missionaries of Africa (GAMAfr.), Rome Italy,” fall 2013 to present. 

Advising co-curator (with Carrie Robbins), “ReconTEXTILEize: Byzantine Textiles from Late Antiquity to the Present,” 18 April 18 to 2 June 2019, Bryn Mawr College.

Select articles and essays

“Bootstrapping the Soft History of Female Subjecthood in the Middle Ages,” The Material Collective, 16 April 2020.

“Integrated yet Segregated: Eastern Islamic Art in Twelfth-Century Byzantium,” in Rossitza Schroeder and Andrea Lam, eds., Festschrift in Honor of Henry Maguire, pp. 387-406. London: Taylor and Francis, 2020.

“The Emperor at the Threshold: Making and Breaking Taxis at Hagia Sophia,” in Shaun Tougher, ed., The Emperor in the Byzantine World, Papers from the 47th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, Cardiff, April 2014, 281-321. London; New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2019.

“Iconomachy in Byzantium,” in ChristianeGruber and Stefano Carboni, eds., The Image in Islamic Art, 86-103. Berkeley: Gingko Publishers, 2019.

“The Beryozovo Cup: A Byzantine Object at the Crossroads of Twelfth-Century Eurasia,” The Medieval Globe 3.2 (2017): 125-48.

“Laughing at Eros and Aphrodite: Sexual Inversion and Its Resolution in the Classicizing Arts of Medieval Byzantium,” in Margaret Alexiou and Douglas Cairns, eds., Greek Laughter and Tears: Late Antiquity, Byzantium and Beyond, 263-87. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 2017.

“Pseudo-Arabic ‘Inscriptions’ and the Pilgrim’s Path at Hosios Loukas,” in Antony Eastmond, ed., Viewing Inscriptions in the Late Antique and Medieval World, 99-123. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

“Magic in Medieval Byzantium,” in David Collins, ed., The Cambridge History of Magic and Demonology in the West, 209-34. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

“The Emperor as Cosmopolitan Ruler: Imaging Middle Byzantine Imperial Power,” in Ayla Ödekan, Nevra Necipoğlu, and Engin Akyürek, eds., The Byzantine Court: Source of Power and Culture, Papers from the Second International Sevgi Gönül Byzantine Studies Symposium, 67-72. Istanbul: Koç University Press, 2013.

“Islamicizing Motifs in Byzantine Lead Seals: Exoticizing Style and the Expression of Identity,” in Contextualising Choices: Islamicate Elements in European Arts, Vera Beyer and Isabelle Dolezalek, eds., special issue of Medieval History Journal 15.2 (2012): 381-408.

“‘The Art that Does Not Think’: Byzantine ‘Decorative Arts’ – History and Limits of a Concept,” Studies in Iconography 34 (2012): 169-93.

“Globalism,” Medieval Art History Today – Critical Terms, special issue of Studies in Iconography 33 (2012): 183-96.

“Decorative Arts,” in The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception 6. Berlin; Boston: Walter De Gruyter, 2012.

“Off the Page and Beyond Antiquity: Ancient Romance in Medieval Byzantine Silver,” in Marília P. Futre Pinheiro and Stephen J. Harrison, eds., Fictional Traces: Receptions of the Ancient Novel, vol. 1, 55-68. Groningen: Barkhuis Publishing & Groningen University Library, 2011.

“Numismatic and Metrological Parallels for the Iconography of Early Byzantine Marriage Jewelry. The Question of the Crowned Bride,” Mélanges Cécile Morrisson, special issue of Travaux et Mémoires 16 (2010; published 2011): 1-14.

“Middle Byzantine Aesthetics and the Incomparability of Islamic Art: The Architectural Ekphraseis of Nikolaos Mesarites,” Muqarnas 27 (2010): 79-101.

“Patterns of Flight: Middle Byzantine Appropriation of the Chinese Feng-Huang Bird,” Ars Orientalis 37 (2010): 188-216.

Chinese translation: Translation Collection of Tsinghua's History (2015).

“Cross-cultural Reception in the Absence of Texts: The Islamic Appropriation of a Middle Byzantine Rosette Casket,” Gesta 47/2 (2008; published 2009): 99-122.

“Meaningful Mingling: Classicizing Imagery and Islamicizing Script in a Byzantine Bowl,” The Art Bulletin 90/1 (2008): 32-53.

“Myth and Magic in Early Byzantine Marriage Jewelry: The Persistence of Pre-Christian Traditions,” in Anne McClanan and Karen Encarnación, eds., The Material Culture of Sex, Procreation, and Marriage in Premodern Europe, pp. 59-78. New York: Palgrave, 2002.