Dept. of Art & Art History
11 Talbot Avenue
Medford, MA 02155
Email Prof. Melius
Modern art and art writing, critical theory and aesthetics,
historiography, histories of sexuality
Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, 2010
B.A. Yale University, 2000
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Trained as a specialist in modern European art and historiography, my
research and teaching span topics in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries,
with a special focus on the intersections of art making and art writing during
the modern period. My first book, Art History and the Invention of Botticelli
(in progress), concerns the "rediscovery" of Botticelli between the 1860s
and the 1930s, and what it meant for this long neglected figure to be
constituted as an object for art-historical study. It is, if you like, a study
in the emergence of something called "art history" out of a complex of writings
about art—and about the past—that included modes of "criticism," "connoisseurship," philosophical meditation, an
"iconography" not yet quite claiming the name, imaginative recreation, blatant
fictionalizing, and, as constant ground-bass, the invention of further "Botticellis" by painters and
engravers of the time. Juxtaposing texts by writers such as John Ruskin, Walter
Pater, Giovanni Morelli, Bernard Berenson, and Aby Warburg with key "Botticellian"
artworks of the period, the book brings into focus abiding complexities of the
entanglement between visual and verbal representation that shepherded the
discipline of art history into being, and invites us to reconsider our own sense
of art as an embodiment of the past.
I am also at work on two additional projects. The first concerns the
development of "physiological aesthetics" in the years leading up to 1900,
exploring the impact of Darwinian and other evolutionary thought on the
conceptualization of visual arts during this period, as well as its troubled
afterlife in the present. The second undertakes a reconsideration of the fraught
problem of Picasso and gender, with special reference to his staging of the
sexed (and unsexed) body in paintings of the later 1920s and 1930s.
Other current interests include the relation of Bruce Nauman's early
work to Marshall McLuhan's media theory; reconsidering the "queerness" of Robert
Rauschenberg's White Paintings; the complex overlap of photography, sculptural
practice, and the understanding of sculpture's history in figures such as Adolf
von Hildebrand and Julius von Schlosser; Ruskin in the Alps; and the elusive
work of filmmaker Chris Marker.
At Tufts, I teach a broad range of courses on European art between 1850
and 1950, as well as on sculptural aesthetics, historiography, contemporary
visual theory, and the moving image.
- "Ruskin's Copies," Critical Inquiry 42.1 (Fall 2015): 61-96.
- "A Symposium on the St. Matthew Passion," with T. J. Clark,
Ethan Iverson, Hallie Sekoff, Lynn Glaser, Jeremy Melius, and Mark Padmore. The Threepenny Review
141 (Spring 2015): 18-20.
- "Inscription and Castration in Picasso's The Painter and his Model,
1927," October 151 (Winter 2015): 43-61.
- "Guitar on a Table," "Guitar," and "Head of a Man"
(4500 words total) in Picasso: The Making of Cubism 1912-1914, ed. Blair
Hartzell and Anne Umland with Scott Gerson. New York: The Museum of Modern Art,
- "Connoisseurship, Painting, and Personhood," Art History 34.2
(April 2011), 288-309. Reprinted in Creative Writing and Art History, ed.
Patricia Rubin and Catherine Grant. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012: 66-87.