Seeing Color in Classical Art: Theory, Practice, Reception from Antiquity to the Present (CUP 2022)

Seeing Color in Classical Art offers a new critical account of color as material in ancient Mediterranean art and architecture. Traversing sites from Athens to Antioch, Stager traces color across a variety of media, including handheld panel paintings, painted monumental reliefs, alloyed bronzes, and mosaic floors. This book explores the materiality of color from the ground up through analysis of the pigments, dyes, stones, soils, and metals that artists crafted into polychrome forms. Artistic practices also shaped a literary and philosophical landscape encompassing Sapphic lyric, Presocratic atomism, and Theophrastan natural history and produced a discourse on color by ancient Greek writers that reverberates in the present. Despite these abundant traces of color, ancient Mediterranean art has long been reduced to the white marble of its ruins to stage an idealized, monochrome picture of the past. Stager examines the process by which this reception tradition has elevated whiteness and feminized and racialized color. In response, this book illuminates the construction of the category of the classical in modernity and challenges its claims to order and exceptionalism. Ultimately, Stager harnesses ancient ideas of materiality, care,
landscape, visual exchange, and artistic atomism to theorize color in the ancient Mediterranean and its afterlives.

Peopling the Past featured this work on their podcast with the episode  “Living in a Material World: Jennifer Stager and Technicolor Statues”

Related essays include:

"The Unbearable Whiteness of Whiteness" Art Practical (2018)

"The Materiality of Color in Ancient Mediterranean Art" in Essays in Global Color History: Interpreting the Ancient Spectrum ed. R. Goldman (Gorgias Press, 2016)


Public Feminism in Times of Crisis: From Sappho’s Fragments to Viral Hashtags (Lexington Books, 2022)

Public Feminism in Times of Crisis is a book of essays in classical receptions and feminist criticism developed in connection to ongoing political and epidemiological crises and the significant intersectional feminist response to this moment. This book examines the public practice of feminism in the age of social media and analyzes the deep histories threaded through this new(er) enactment. Six chapters analyze the Venus tradition and the archive; feminist biography and #MeToo as map; feminist translation; the collective lyric I and citational justice; virality and new materialism; and decentralized monuments and memorializing. The book’s methodology weaves together traditional academic research and public-facing media, practicing the very tools that it analyzes.

We are grateful to our editor Judith Lakämper at Lexington Books for permission to release this excerpt from our introduction open access:

Introduction (open access excerpts)

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An essay from this book exploring historical and contemporary list-monuments as feminist practice,
“Overwriting the Monument Tradition: lists, loss, and scale” appears in RES: Antropology and Aesthetics 75/76 (Fall 2021).