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Professor Matthew Canepa
Art History

Professor Matthew Canepa

Professor is Attracted to Art History's Cultural Reflections
By Kristin Robinson

When most people are asked why they chose to specialize in a particular field, not many have answers that convey a true passion for what they do. College of Charleston professor Matthew Canepa is one of those rare instances where his passion for his work shines through.

Canepa began his study of art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he received his undergraduate degree. He
then went on to pursue his masters at the University of Chicago, where he earned his master of arts in the humanities.

Canepa's academic journey continued at the University of Chicago, where he stayed in order to conduct his doctoral research. Canepa earned his doctorate in 2004.

The College of Charleston is the first school where he has taught. Canepa is an assistant professor of art history, specializing in Roman and Near Eastern Art. Some of the classes that he teaches include History of Greek and Roman Art, History of Early Christian and Byzantine Art, and Roman Art and Ritual Theory. "I'm incredibly excited to be here,"Canepa says.

As for why Canepa decided on art history as his specialty, it is because he believes that art history allows society to access all parts of a culture.

"I love art history because it demands that you engage and contribute to a wide variety of disciplines such as philology, religion, critical theory, archaeology, philosophy, history of science, music- basically everything that informed the visual culture and took place in the architecture- especially when working in the pre-modern world," he says. "Understanding a culture's built environment and visual culture, either in ancient Rome or in a post-modern megalopolis, challenges you come to terms ways of experiencing the world that can be vastly different from one's own and which that textual sources don't capture."

Canepa is far from being the stereotypical professor who simply lectures on-and-on without any type of interaction with students. Canepa's classes are much more dynamic than that. He incorporates the research he has done in the field of art history into his dialogue within the classroom. He believes that this is beneficial for both himself and his students, facilitating more discussion and debate within his classes. "Not every question has a right answer," Canepa says. He feels that his own research has improved by interacting with his students.

This summer, Canepa will travel to Europe to conduct research for his upcoming book "The Two Eyes of the Earth: Competition and Exchange in the Art and Ritual Kingship between Rome and Sasanian Iran." He describes this project as an expansion of his doctoral research. The book is part of a series published by the University of California press entitled "Transformation of the Classical Heritage." Canepa's book will be the first to analyze in great detail the interactions between the Roman and Sasanian empires.

During his trip to Europe this summer, Canepa will travel to London to attend two conferences: the International Conference of Iranian Studies and the 21st International Byzantine Studies Congress. At this conference, Canepa will present a paper titled "International Ornament and Royal Identity in the Sixth and Seventh Centuries."