Evelyn Ruth Staudinger

Professor of the History of Art, Emerita


Ph.D., Brown University
M.A., Tufts University
B.A., Wellesley College


Main Interests

I have a passion for medieval buildings, particularly Romanesque monastic churches and Gothic cathedrals in France. I see these structures as integral to the cities and communities that once enveloped them rather than as isolated behemoths from the past. My interests lie in how these buildings were constructed, not only with respect to the actual “bricks and mortar” used and the design or series of designs chosen, but to the people who might have “foot the bill” and those who carried out the construction. How the social and political events of the time affected the speed with which these buildings were erected is of interest to me as are the encoded messages, political and spiritual, that were deeply embedded within them. They inspired and edified, but they also proclaimed the power of their patrons and their pride of place in medieval society.

In keeping with this multivalent view of medieval buildings, I am also fascinated by decoration as an integral feature of a building’s design and its signification, specifically, the sculpture and stained glass that adorned these monuments. Other areas of interest include: the creation of “women’s space” as unique from its male counterpart’s in medieval architecture; medieval archaeology; the relationship between prints and painting (particularly in the work of Dürer, Rembrandt and Goya); the work of Jan van Eyck, Hieronymus Bosch and Matthias Grünewald; and the art of caricature in medieval gargoyles.

I have also led two trips to France, in 2002 and 2006. My fellow travelers were students enrolled in a senior seminar that focused on four major churches in and near Paris: St. Denis, Notre-Dame in Paris, Chartres and Ste.-Chapelle. After studying each building and its decoration for the first 6 weeks of the semester, we traveled to analyze the works in person. As I always tell my students, “Medieval Art is Cool!”

In addition, I worked as Associate Provost at Wheaton for four years (2008-2012), while still teaching history of art, though on a limited scale. The administration work was a richly rewarding experience that introduced me more fully to the amazing work of staff members and fellow faculty colleagues. In particular, I adored the opportunity to work with science, math and computer science faculty and staff on their moves into our new science center, Mars Center for Science and Technology, a two year project.

Other Interests

The positions I hold and have held in scholarly organizations are as follows:

-Vice-Treasurer, Treasurer (2008-2012) and member of the American author team of the Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi (member since 1998) an international organization that is dedicated to publishing all surviving stained-glass windows of European origin that date from before the Industrial Revolution.

-Member of the Board of Directors serving a three year term (2007-2010) for the International Center of Medieval Art, the major organization in the US for medieval art historians. I served on the Development Committee in 2005/2006, on the Finance Committee in 2007-2010 and currently am a member of the Audit Committee.

-Treasurer, AVISTA, (2002-2009) a scholarly organization founded in 1984, which is dedicated to the promotion of medieval topics that relate to the practical sciences and to technology. The society publishes Avista Forum, the Journal of The Association Villard de Honnecourt for the Interdisciplinary Study of Medieval Technology, Science, and Art annually.



Co-editor and contributor with Ellen Shortell and Elizabeth Pastan, The Four Modes Of Seeing: Approaches To Medieval Imagery In Honor Of Madeline Caviness, Ashgate, 2009.

Madeline H. Caviness with the assistance of Evelyn Ruth Staudinger, Stained Glass Before 1540:  A Selected Annotated Bibliography by, Boston:  G.K. Hall, 1983.

“The Integration of a Twelfth-Century Tower into a Thirteenth-Century Church: The Case of Notre-Dame de Donnemarie-en-Montois,” Journal Of The Society Of Architectural Historians, 2005, 64/1, 74-99.

Impressions: The Art Of The Print, Selections From The Wheaton College Collection, ed. by Evelyn Staudinger Lane, exh. cat., Wheaton College: Norton, Massachusetts, 2000.

Teaching Interests

I adore teaching, particularly courses pertaining to Romanesque and Gothic as well as Early Medieval, Northern Renaissance Art and the History of Prints. My goal is to help each student come closer to analyzing objects and monuments through the lens of medieval Europe rather than contemporary America. In an age when skyscrapers were non-existent and images were hardly ubiquitous, the dizzying height of a Gothic cathedral or the intricate lines of an Irish manuscript page were truly breathtaking. To this end my students “build” Chartres Cathedral, create a manuscript illumination, debate as iconoclasts and iconodules, and imagine themselves as characters and audience in the late medieval panel painting, The Isenheim Altarpiece, by Grünewald.

My Castles and Cathedrals course is uniquely connected to Cell Biology in Wheaton’s innovative Connections Curriculum.  Joined together on the premise that structures, whether built by humans or built by nature share in the same structural principles, our courses introduce a series of “Rules to Build By” that cells and cathedrals abide by.  If they don’t, we introduce labs that focus on what happens when this does not occur, and medieval buildings fall down.  Students come to know my “mantra” early on in class, “Medieval Art is Cool!”

I am a print-lover who champions this extraordinary medium in a history of prints class I teach. I encourage my students to become print-lovers through an assignment called Buy-A-Print in which they become collectors. In a seminar for art history majors in 2000, I was privileged to direct the organization of an exhibition and the publication of a 140-page catalogue written by my students in one semester on the history and techniques of printmaking called Impressions: The Art of the Print. Since that time, I have directed two other exhibitions curated by our students and drawn from our fine print collection: “The Power of the Print: Dürer, Rembrandt and Goya” (2003) and “Faces: Selections from the Wheaton College Print Collection” (2005).

This Fall I have the unique opportunity of teaching a course on the art of Francisco Goya in conjunction with a blockbuster exhibition called “Goya: Order and Disorder” that will open on October 12, 2014 at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and that is being co-curated by a Wheaton Alumna, Stephanie Stephanek, Curator of Prints and Drawings at the MFA. It is the first major exhibition on Goya to be held in North America in the last twenty-five years. Other highlights of the course will include the organization of a small exhibition by students in Wheaton’s Weil Gallery of our Goya prints (one was donated this December and has not yet been shown) in conjunction with the MFA show. All students will become acquainted with a professionalizing experience of going to the International Print Fair in NYC in November; all will attend the Goya exhibition in Boston and network with alumnae(i) in all disciplines at a special event. A final highlight is that this class has been designated one of the two Wheaton Institute for the Interdisciplinary Humanities (Please visit the WIIH website: https://wheatoncollege.edu/wiih/) courses for next year, which means that all students enrolled will become WIIH fellows and benefit from exposure to professional development events, such as hearing a panel of alums speak about their careers (museum studies, law, conservation, recent PhD’s and college professors, auction house professionals, curators, etc.), participate as facilitators at interdisciplinary events, network with professionals in these areas, to name a few. The second WIIH course to which mine is associated is being taught by Professor of Music Ann Sears on Beethoven. Beethoven and Goya were contemporaries (they died the same year). They both have marvelous connections in the way their music and art developed (each heralded in the period of Romanticism), their art/music was highly political, and each experienced a difficult sensory loss: both went deaf.

I have also enjoyed teaching Visualizing Ancient Rome and had the great pleasure of returning to Italy in 2006 for the first time since I spent my junior semester abroad in Rome to examine the art and architecture covered in this course. Every day was like visiting an old friend!

I have taught numerous First Year Seminars, the most recent called “Cracking the Codes: Mysteries and Imagery.” This course includes such controversies as the restoration of the Sistine Chapel, the Vermeer forgeries by Hans van Meegeren, and the theft at the Gardner Museum, recently back in the news.

Classes taught:

  • Early Medieval Art and Culture
  • From the Holy Land to Graceland: The Art of Pilgrimage
  • Castles and Cathedrals
  • Italian Medieval Art
  • The History of Prints
  • Northern Renaissance Art
  • Visualizing Ancient Rome

Seminars in:

The Radiance of Light, The Brilliance of Color: Stained Glass: from its Origins to the Twentieth Century; The Gothic Cathedral: Chartres as Treasure and Marvel; Impressions: The Art of the Print; The Art of the Gothic Age; Bodies: Dead or Alive – Images of the “Other” in Medieval and Early Modern Art in the North.

Student Projects

Last summer (2013), Sophia Boullier ’15 (see picture) worked with me on St. Julien-du-Sault in France as we measured the building using precision surveying equipment called a Total Laser Station. This building, located in northern Burgundy, is the focus of my most recent research project entitled “Creating Sacred Space: The Intersection of Architecture and Glass in The Gothic Church of St. Julien-du-Sault.” Previously, Alicia La Tores, accompanied me to France. These experiences of introducing my students to medieval architecture on site are invaluable to me and a joy to experience.

In addition, I have worked regularly with a Wheaton Research Partner, a student who assists me in my scholarly pursuits throughout the academic year. Alicia LaTores ’08, for example, helped me on several projects: The first is the copy-editing of my book, THE FOUR MODES OF SEEING: APPROACHES TO MEDIEVAL IMAGERY. The second involved the gathering of data on approximately 50 Medieval and Renaissance stained-glass panels that are located in Baltimore, Maryland with the goal of completing the following book, CORPUS VITREARUM UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; STAINED GLASS BEFORE 1700 IN BALTIMORE, MARYLAND.

I have also directed numerous student honors theses, among them, Alexandra Mann ’06 on the spiritual content of the color blue in art throughout eastern and western cultures, and Marie Stewart ’06 on the conservation of medieval stained glass.

Aside from the collaborative project on prints noted above, two students, Laura Yorkis ’00 and Sarah Kozlowski ’00 assisted me during January, 2000 editing the catalogue, Impressions:  The Art of the Print.

Research Interests

My research is on thirteenth-century architecture, sculpture and stained glass in France. I have worked on Notre-Dame de Donnemarie-en-Montois, a collegiate church located near the city of Provins, once one of the most powerful economic centers in medieval France. Aside from the more traditional methods of research, I have used medieval archaeological techniques to identify building practices at Donnemarie and neutron activation analysis, carried out by the Brookhaven Laboratories in Upton, NY, to assess the relationship between the portal sculpture and its setting. I am currently working on eight panels of stained glass depicting the Last Judgment that are still in situ and their relationship to the panel from Donnemarie now in the Pitcairn Collection in the Glencairn Museum, Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania.

I am involved in a a major research project on the architecture and stained glass of the Burgundian Gothic church in France called CREATING SACRED SPACE: THE INTERSECTION OF ARCHITECTURE AND STAINED GLASS IN THE GOTHIC CHURCH OF ST. PIERRE AT ST.-JULIEN-DU-SAULT. My work is being supported by numerous grants/fellowships:

  • Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation Fellowship
  • Mellon Summer Research Grant
  • A grant from the Cesare Barbieri Endowment for Italian Culture at Trinity College, Hartford
  • Wheaton College Faculty Summer Research Grant
  • Clemence Summer Research Grant

This book project focuses uniquely on the collaborative work of masons and stained-glass artists in the design of a sacred performative space (choir and ambulatory) in 13th-century France. Constructed in the mid years of the century and contemporary with Ste.-Chapelle, the east end of St.-Julien, which still retains 9 of its magnificent ambulatory windows, was among the earliest examples of one of the most important artistic movements in medieval France,Rayonnant architecture. Characterized by diaphanous screens of slender mullions and myriad panels of stained glass, this styleheralded the primacy of colored light and symbolic connotations of the divine, helping to propel the medieval glazier to center stage. The main thrust of my project is a multivalent approach toward glass and architecture that will uncover inter-relationships not previously seen by medieval scholars, who, with few exceptions, rarely work in both media.  Ultimately, my goal is to define a series of symbiotic relationships between architecture and glass that will counter the more commonly held view that glaziers and masons worked largely independent of one another, even at Ste.-Chapelle.  In addition, rather than the image of the glazier as “sub-contractor” to the mason, whose single greatest interaction was receiving an accurate template of the window opening, I will show, using digital light meters, that key design decisions, like the importance of light in defining architecture and space, were made in tandem in order to construct the magical spaces that define mid-13th century France. My work, which centers on the earliest parts of St.-Julien, its Rayonnant ambulatory and chapels, will provide a standard for research in medieval architecture and glass, and lead to the first book to focus primarily on the nexus between these two media during this period.