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Sarah R

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at Harvard University


16th and 17th century art (Renaissance and Baroque), modern and contemporary art and architecture, visual and material culture, museum and curatorial studies


I'm an art historian broadly interested in the relationship between art and politics, ethics, and ecology. As an undergraduate at Harvard, I studied Modern and Contemporary art and wrote my thesis on a work of art about the pollution and politics of the Rhine River. But after college, I discovered an interest in 16th century European art, with all its complicated power relations and moralization. Having returned to Harvard for a PhD, I'm now starting my dissertation on an early-16th century Swiss artist who was also a mercenary soldier! Part of the reason I love Art History is that it requires that I practice critical analysis that helps me grow as a person. I am passionate about animal rights, as well as social and environmental justice, and I try to bring this into all that I do. One aspect of this is the belief that all people should have access to a quality education so they can gain the skills and knowledge needed to be an engaged, caring, and critical thinker. Plus, learning is super fun!

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Images of the Past and Visions of the Future

The work of artists like Albrecht Dürer, Hieronymus Bosch, and Pieter Bruegel the Elder often engages with time periods other than the present. A student could do a research or curating project that considers how a specific group of images of the past (showing classical topics, for example) and/or visions of the future (showing the Apocalypse, the afterlife, or a utopic future world) relate to the present.

Is a Portrait of the King Propaganda?

In 16th century Europe, artists like Hans Holbein the Younger worked for royal courts and rich citizens. A student could do a research project about how the art made in these settings relates to propaganda as we now understand it.

Languages I know


Teaching experience

I've primarily mentored and taught undergrads. In more official classroom settings, I have taught art history topics and recently wrote a syllabus for an undergraduate seminar. This included office hours, and I have continued mentoring a few students interested in career guidance. I have also worked with dancers and musicians, both teaching relevant art history and workshopping original compositions. I've also written and edited videos and gallery talks aimed at general audiences.



Harvard University
BA Bachelor of Arts (2015)
History of Art and Architecture
Courtauld Institute of Art
MA Master of Arts (2017)
Renaissance Art
Harvard University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Northern Renaissance Art

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