Professor of Art History
B.A., The American University; M.A., PhD., Rutgers State University of New Jersey
As an undergraduate in Washington, D.C., I had the opportunity to study original works of art at the National Gallery and was enthralled by their collection of Italian Renaissance art. Italian Renaissance art is now my specialty, and I teach a range of courses at Randolph including Ancient, Medieval, and Baroque art, as well as Museum Studies. The interdisciplinary approach that framed my undergraduate education in Renaissance Studies still informs my teaching and research, and some of my favorite classes are those I co-teach with colleagues, such as Masterworks of Greek and Roman Art, a course that combines the perspectives of archaeology and art history.
The study of art and the material of our cultural patrimony has never been more critical to our lives as citizens. My students learn how to reconstruct the original meaning of works of art and architecture while being encouraged to consider their roles as historians and challenged to pose new questions. The skills gained in critical thinking and writing, in addition to the ability to read and discern meaning in our visual environment, are some of the powerful tools gained in the study of art history that serve our students well in all their future occupations.
I am dedicated to getting students in front of original works of art and take students on field trips to all sorts of museums, both in our area and in nearby cities such as Richmond and Washington. My favorite course culminates in a two-week study tour in Italy; it is a great joy for me to witness students experience the power of Italian art in a way that can never be matched in the classroom.
My research interests include fifteenth-century Sienese art and culture, the subject of a current book project, and issues of patronage and iconography in Venetian painting and sculpture, which will be explored in two future projects.
Professor of History
B.A, Widener University; M.A., Pennsylvania State University; Ph.D., Indiana University
When I applied for a teaching position here, I had never heard of the College. I knew I wanted to teach at a small school, but I had no idea how much I would fall in love with this campus, its students, and its emphasis on academics. This place is more than a job for me. There is something special here that makes you feel at home. We’re able to do so much more in class because of the College’s small size.
My classes give me the opportunity to help students understand their world and the importance of history. I teach courses on general 20th century European history, German history and Russian history as well as seminars such as Propaganda, Genocide, The Holocaust, and Women and the Two World Wars. I also teach a course entitled Paris and Berlin in the 1920s: A Cultural History. This class, inspired by my own scholarly research on the evolution of a consumer culture in Germany during the 1920s, explores the unprecedented explosion of artistic creativity that emerged from the cafes, cabarets, and studios of Paris and Berlin.
Like most of the professors here, I try to bring my classroom alive for students. You can’t learn everything from just one textbook. Since I love movies, I integrate films into all of my classes. I also assign novels, memoirs, and biographies and utilize images to provide a visual context for many of the topics discussed in my courses.
But most importantly, we talk. One of my favorite aspects about the College is its diversity. There are so many international students here and in my classes. When I am teaching about various events, it is amazing to have students from places like Ethiopia, Bulgaria, Nepal, Germany, Argentina, Jamaica, Mongolia, and Romania sharing their and their families’ stories. These different perspectives add so much to class discussions.
I, along with faculty colleagues, have also taken students to Prague and Berlin as part of a course entitled Coming to Terms with the Past. While on this trip, we visited many important historical sites and museums that deal with the imperial, Nazi and communist pasts and met many eyewitnesses to history including a Holocaust survivor, a Czech pilot who fought against Nazi Germany in World War II, and a former East German prisoner. Randolph College Associate Professor of French Jamie Rohrer and I have also taken students to Paris and Berlin for a course entitled Capitals of Culture. Since this course concentrated on art, architecture, literature and cinema of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, we visited museums such as the Musée d’Orsay, Musée Picasso and the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Film Museum, Jewish Museum, and Bauhaus Museum in Berlin.
I have also participated in Randolph College’s American Culture Program. Dealing with issues such as the impact of Disney on America and the theme of movement in American culture, I, along with colleagues with expertise in fields such as gender studies, geography, American literature, and folklore have taken students to Jamestown, Williamsburg, Savannah, Orlando, Washington, Philadelphia and New York City.
I also frequently lead field trips to Washington, D.C. to visit museums such as the National Gallery and the Holocaust Museum. My goal is to take students on a summer trip to Germany for a course on the impact of World War II in the next few years.
Given my expertise in twentieth century German history, I joined the board of the Holocaust Education Foundation of Central Virginia soon after I arrived in Lynchburg. As a member of the board, I’ve been able to help bring several guest speakers to Lynchburg to discuss issues surrounding the impact of the Holocaust. I’ve brought two Holocaust survivors to speak at the Randolph College campus: Eva Kor, whose life story is featured in the documentary Forgiving Dr. Mengele, and Gerda Weissmann Klein. Klein’s story is presented in the Academy Award winning documentary One Survivor Remembers and I use her memoir All But My Life in my introductory modern European history course.
Besides my interest in history I have a passion for historic preservation. Inspired by an architectural boat tour of Chicago over twenty years ago, I became involved in historic preservation efforts while a graduate student back in Indiana. In 2006 I joined the board of the Friends of Rivermont Historical Foundation (FORHS) and in 2007 I became the board president. Dedicated to preserving and improving the beauty, safety and community spirit of Historic Rivermont, the FORHS board conducts several community outreach programs including an annual ice cream social and a holiday lights tour. In addition, in 2010 and 2011 I participated in the College’s Summer Research Program to conduct research on the individual buildings within the Rivermont Avenue Historic District (including Randolph College). Working with four RC History majors, we gathered information and took photos of the buildings within the Rivermont Avenue Historic District for the FORHS website www.friendsofrivermont.org
When I’m not teaching, you are most likely to find me traveling. My wife, Carolyn, and I love to visit art museums, buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, presidential sites, movie palaces, and classic diners. We also like to check out weird attractions such as the World’s Largest Bull or the World’s Largest Badger or the two competing World’s Largest Balls of Twine. We’ve even seen the World’s Largest Talking Cow, which rests beside the World’s Largest Replica Cheese in Neillsville, Wisconsin. As always, we hope to hit a few more presidential sites and unique roadside attractions this year.
B.A., Randolph College
Emily Smith graduated from Randolph College with a degree in Heritage Studies in 2012. As a student, she participated in the University of Florida’s Preservation Institute: Nantucket, and conducted independent collections-based research on the 18th century natural history illustrator, Sydney Parkinson, at the British Museum, British Museum of Natural History, the British Library, Kew Gardens, Archives of Westminster, Friends House Library, and the Hunterian Museum (Glasgow). She also completed an archaeological field school, as well as an internship on historic landscapes, at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest.
In 2011 she started (with Doug Shedd) the Randolph College Natural History & Archaeology Project, to engage students and faculty in the preservation and use of biological and geological specimens as well as cultural artifacts. She is now the full-time Collections Coordinator for these collections, and supervises an average of 8 interns and 20 volunteers each semester.
In 2016, Smith worked with Randolph at Reading to coordinate museum internship opportunities at the Museum of English Rural Life, the Cole Museum of Zoology, and the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology for Randolph students participating in study abroad at the University of Reading.
She has presented multiple papers on interdisciplinary, collections-based learning at the annual conference of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) and ICOM-NATHIST (Natural History Museum Council of UNESCO).
Smith resides in the c.1813 home she restored with her husband, Scott, and volunteers with Central Virginia Master Naturalists. On any given day she also plays traditional Irish and Scottish fiddle, forages for wild herbs, or creates art from found objects and homemade paints.
When I came to the College as a non-traditional student in 1995, I had no idea my life would become connected to Randolph beyond graduation.
While completing my studies in Spanish and American Literature, I took the opportunity to work at the Maier Museum of Art as an intern. Shortly after graduating I carried out a grant-funded project to transfer the museum’s 100-year archive of artist and object records into a collections management database over a two-year period. Afterward, I was hired as the museum’s registrar.
I found myself working with students in support of the College’s art history and museum studies courses. The experiences of managing the art collection, examining art and artifacts with students at the Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum, and seeing student-curated exhibitions come to fruition has been extremely rewarding. I find it gratifying to see these same individuals become professionals at museums, galleries, and historic sites. To serve as an instructor at my alma mater, and help introduce more people to the remarkable collection of art here, is something I never imagined when I first stepped inside the red brick wall.
My personal interests include writing poetry and creative non-fiction, yoga, and – lately – playing the ukulele. I’ve served on the board for the Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum and as membership secretary and regional vice president for the Poetry Society of Virginia.
Professor of the Classics Department,The Catherine Ehrman Thoresen ’23 and William E. Thoresen Chair of Humanities
B.A., University of South Carolina; M.A., Ph.D., University of Wisconsin (Madison)
Since joining the faculty at Randolph College, I have combined my training as a Classical philologist specializing in Latin with my research as an archaeologist: I teach all levels of Latin language and literature, and courses in Mediterranean archaeology. I try to convey my enthusiasm for Latin as a window into the literature, culture and history of Rome as well as a foundation for learning other languages and developing better English. My archaeology courses emphasize the material culture and physical environment of the Roman world. I like collaborative work: team-teaching with my colleagues in the Art department and observing my Latin students teaching Latin to gifted third, fourth and fifth graders in Lynchburg has been a treat, and eye-opening too.
A specialist in the archaeology of North Africa, I have directed excavations at Carthage and Lamta (Tunisia) that included archaeological field schools for undergraduate students. The excavations resulted in the publication of numerous articles and three books to which current and former students have contributed. I have become especially concerned of late about archaeological and cultural heritage conservation, and have developed a summer course in Italy with conservator Roberto Nardi to get my students involved.
My fieldwork and other collaborative ventures lead me to encourage students to participate in excavations, conservation programs, interdisciplinary research and experiential learning on our campus and overseas. As a student of modern languages and a passionate advocate of overseas travel and study, I urge Classics majors to study in Rome, Athens, Reading University or elsewhere for a semester.