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 examines the public practice of feminism in the age of social media. While their concept of public feminism emerges from a moment of acute crisis (the Trump years and the Covid-19 pandemic), Leila Easa and Jennifer Stager locate its foundations in history, journeying through broad swatches of time looking for connections between the centuries through art and literature and culture. Each chapter focuses on what public feminists do in the world: Public feminists gain control over an archive that otherwise contains or excludes them; they recover their own stories and subjective experiences, sometimes for activist use; they examine images and language that construct women in patriarchal texts; they situate the individual within a collective and the collective within an individual; they confront the limitations of such situating due to the containment of patriarchy and reclaim new systems of power in response; and they resurface a deep history for the alternative strategies of memorializing they employ. In navigating these practices, the authors also attend to the material conditions of writing histories as well as those shaping and enabling public feminist acts and protests more broadly.
An essay from this collection, “Overwriting the Monument Tradition: lists, loss, and scale” appears in RES: Antropology and Aesthetics 75/76 (Fall 2021).