Art professor heads to Chicago antiquity seminar

Merrimack College Professor of Art History Ellen Longsworth, Ph.D. has been chosen to participate in the prestigious Council of Independent Colleges' Seminar “Teaching Pre-Modern European Art in Context: The Uses of Antiquity” this summer at the University of Chicago's Smart Museum of Art.  Only 20 individuals nationwide were selected to participate.

The outcome of the exclusive seminar will be to take advantage of Merrimack’s proximity to Boston as Longsworth teaches a newly developed interdisciplinary course, provisionally titled, “Problems in Classical Art: Antiquity and the Enlightenment in Early America.” The course, according to Longsworth, would “focus on the rediscovery of classical antiquity and its impact on the art and architecture of our fledgling Republic.” She plans to incorporate student trips to the mansions of Newburyport and the Art of the Americas wing of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The seminar, the fifth in a series, is supported by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, with a goal of strengthening the teaching of art history to undergraduates at smaller colleges and universities. The starting point of the seminar is the study of European objects (1300-1800) at the Smart Museum, including prints and rare books in the Regenstein Library’s Special Collections Research Center. In addition, the seminar will visit other local sites including the Oriental Institute, campus and neighborhood murals, and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

Longsworth earned a B.A. at Mount Holyoke College, an M.A. from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. from Boston University. She has taught art history at Merrimack since 1985.

“It will be grand to be back (at the University of Chicago),” says Longsworth, since the Smart Gallery had just opened when she left with course work and M.A. exams completed, never having the pleasure of enjoying the art collection. This time, Longsworth says, she will be immersed in the collected works.


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