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Ph.D. Candidate Elena Gittleman Will Have Research Funded by Pair of Fellowships

April 20, 2022
Ph.D. Candidate Elena Gittleman

Elena Gittleman, who is a Ph.D. candidate in history of art, has received a pair of fellowships that will help fund research and writing time as she completes her dissertation.

Elena will be spending next academic year as a Dumbarton Oaks Junior Fellow.

At Dumbarton Oaks, Elena will primarily be working on writing chapters four and five of her dissertation, Legacies of Ancient Theater in Middle Byzantine Visual Culture (ca.843-1204), which “argues—contrary to current scholarly consensus—that Roman theater did not disappear under the hegemony of Orthodox Christianity but was in fact foundational to the performance of imperial power and elite identity, to the romanitas (romanness) of the Empire.”

Chapter four illustrates the expanded spaces and conception of theater in medieval Byzantine culture through a consideration of the representations of spaces of performance in the 11th-century frescoes in the Church of St. Sophia in Kyiv and the 12th-century Madrid Skylitzes illuminated manuscript.

Chapter five analyzes a group of Middle Byzantine luxury objects depicting theatrical iconography, including masks, actors, and muses. Elena conducted the site and museum research for these chapters in fall of 2021 with the support of the Phyllis Bober Multi-Disciplinary Fellowship from Bryn Mawr College.

After the fellowship period at Dumbarton Oaks, Elena will use funding from an American Research Institute in Turkey fellowship to conduct three months of field and archival research in support of her second dissertation chapter, which produces, for the first time, a comprehensive database and analysis of the medieval lives of ancient theaters in Anatolia and Byzantine Greece.

Elena received her B.A in art history and archaeology from Washington University in St. Louis and an M.A. in art history from Southern Methodist University, during which time she worked as a square supervisor at the Huqoq Excavation Project in northern Israel. She held a graduate curatorial fellowship at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, assisting in the exhibition Bestowing Beauty: Masterpieces from Persian Lands (November 19, 2017–February 11, 2018) as well as holding education positions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Met Cloisters, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. She has curated two exhibitions at Bryn Mawr and served as co-chair for the Graduate Student Association (2017-2019) and the 12th Biennial Graduate Group Symposium. She has presented her research at regional, national, and international conferences. Her research has been supported by grants from the International Center of Medieval Art, the Istanbul Research Institute, and the Medieval Academy of America.

Bryn Mawr's Department of History of Art offers a Ph.D. degree in all areas of Western art history from late antiquity through the present. An M.A. degree is offered in the second year in the process of acquiring the Ph.D. History of Art is one of three independent departments that comprise the Graduate Group in Archaeology, Classics, and History of Art