Texas Tech University

Theresa Flanigan, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Pre-Modern Art History

Ph.D., Institute of Fine Arts, New York University



Theresa Flanigan, Ph.D.

Dr. Flanigan is a specialist in Italian late medieval and Renaissance art and architectural history. She has a PhD in the History of Art from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and a studio background in architecture. Dr. Flanigan's scholarship has been generously supported by a residential fellowship at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy, and by grants from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the Renaissance Society of America. Since 2014, she has served on the executive board of the Southern Humanities Council.

Dr. Flanigan's research interests include: premodern scientific approaches to the body, senses, and emotions; Italian architecture and urbanism; women's history; cultural constructions of identity; Christian art and ethics; and viewer response to imagesShe has published on the civic patronage and architectural history of the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) in Florence; emotional expression in Italian Renaissance female portraits, including Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa; the representation of women's speech in the Tornabuoni Chapel; the devotional and ethical function of religious images by Fra Angelico and Fra Filippo Lippi; the premodern understanding of sympathetic response and its ties to the development of naturalistic images; and the influence of medical science on Giotto's frescoes in the Scrovegni (Arena) Chapel, amongst other subjects.Her scholarship has appeared in multiple edited volumes and academic journals, including Studies in IconographyGestaArtibus et Historiae, and Open Arts Journal. Currently, she is completing her book titled The Ponte Vecchio: Architecture, Politics, and Civic Identity in Late Medieval Florence.


“Seeing and Sensing Compassion: Giotto's Naturalism in the Arena Chapel and Pietro d'Abano's Theory of Sympathetic Response,” pp. 123-139, in New Horizons in Trecento Italian Art, eds. Karl Whittington and Bryan Keene, Turnhout: Brepols, 2021. Reviewed in caareviews.org (Nov. 30, 2021).

"Mona Lisa's Smile: Interpreting Emotion in Renaissance Female Portraits," Studies in Iconography 40 (2019): 183-230.

 “The Ponte Vecchio as a Public Good: Civic Architecture and Civil Conflict in Trecento Florence,” pp. 97-112, in Art and Experience in Trecento Italy, eds. Holly Flora and Sarah Wilkins, Turnhout: Brepols, 2018.          

“Women's Speech in the Tornabuoni Chapel,” Artibus et Historiae, vol. 38, no. 76 (2017): 205-30.

“Viewing Renaissance Naturalism with a Moral Eye: The Ethical Function of Naturalism in Alberti's On Painting and Filippo Lippi's Life of St. Stephen,” pp. 71-88, in Encountering the Renaissance: Festschrift for Gary Radke, eds. M. Bourne and V. Coonin, WAPAAC and Zephyrus Scholarly Publications, 2016.

“Disciplining the Tongue: Archbishop Antoninus, the Opera a ben vivere, and the Regulation of Women's Speech in Renaissance Florence,” special issue: Touch Me, Touch Me Not: Re-evaluating the Senses, Gender, and Performativity in Early Modernity, eds. Erin Benay and Lisa M. Rafanelli, Open Arts Journal 4 (Feb., 2015): 41-60. https://openartsjournal.org/issue-4/article-3/

“Art, Memory, and the Cultivation of Virtue: The Ethical Function of Images in St. Antoninus' Opera a ben vivere,” Gesta, 53.2 (2014): 175-95.

“Ocular Chastity: Optical Theory, Architectural Barriers, and the Gaze in the Renaissance Church of San Marco, Florence,” pp. 40-60, in Beyond the Text: Franciscan Art and the Construction of Religion, eds. Xavier Seubert and Oleg Bychkov, St. Bonaventure, NY: Franciscan Institute Publications, 2013.   

“The Ponte Vecchio and the Art of Urban Planning in Late Medieval Florence,” Gesta 47 (2008): 1-15.


ARTH 1303: Survey I

A survey of painting, sculpture, architecture, and the minor arts from prehistoric times to the 14th century.

ARTH 4308: Seminar in Art History: Renaissance Art and Society

This course explores relationships between art and society during the European Renaissance period (between circa 1300-1600). Students will gain extensive art historical and cultural understanding as they explore themes related to the social history of Renaissance art, such as: artistic patronage, portraiture and self-fashioning, domestic art and family values, devotional art and commemorative practices, public art and civic identity, art and gender roles, artistic exchange, art in an expanding global society, and imaging the “New World.”

ARTH 4320: Topics in Medieval Art: Medieval Monsters

In this course we examine the monsters that populate medieval images, from the margins of manuscripts to the sculptures and paintings in churches, from the edges of maps to illustrated romances, travel literature, and more. Focusing primarily on late medieval Europe (ca. 1000-1500), we will study the visual representation of monsters as historical evidence, providing deeper insight into both the societies that created them as well as our own. Questions we will ask include: Why does a society create monsters? What kinds of monsters do humans create and how have these monsters evolved over time? How is monstrosity communicated visually? How do monsters provoke emotions, such as awe, fear, and wonder? What values do monsters communicate? What social, cultural, or political functions did and do monsters serve?

ARTH 5320: Arts of Medieval Europe

Graduate seminar. Multiple critical, theoretical, and historical approaches to the art and architecture of Medieval Europe.