Jennifer Lyons

Assistant Professor, Department of Art History
Faculty, School of Humanities and Sciences
Faculty, Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Specialty:Medieval art
Phone:(607) 274-1852
Office:G113 Gannett Center
Ithaca, NY 14850


  • Ph.D., Emory University, Art History
  • M.A., Tufts University, Art History
  • B.A., University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Art History and Comparative Literature

​Research Interests:

I specialize in the art and architecture of the medieval West with an emphasis on France and England between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries. My current book project, The Animate Virgin and the Penitent Sinner in Representations of the Theophilus Legend, traces the history of the Faustian tale of a cleric who sells his soul to the devil, but is saved by the Virgin Mary, as it was told in stained glass, illuminated manuscripts, monumental sculpture, Latin sermons and hymns, and vernacular texts. The book demonstrates that it was in the visual arts that the Theophilus legend gained the status of the Virgin Mary's most famous miracle story, and that this development inspired the invention of a new image of the Mother of God, depicted as a bold and sometimes violent mediator. Research for this project was supported by a two-year Samuel H. Kress Fellowship in European Art at the Institut national d'histoire de l'art in Paris and a Charles T. Wood Grant from the Medieval Academy of America. 


My research influences my teaching, particularly my interest in visual narrative. I am fascinated by the changing meaning of medieval stories as they move between image and text and across different artistic media. As a teacher of the humanities, I think broadly about how my art historical training translates across disciplines, encouraging students to become slow and careful beholders, active readers, and effective writers.  

Course Offerings:

ARTH 111: Episodes in Western Art

ARTH 221: Introduction to the Medieval World

ARTH 27550: Islamic Art and Architecture

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