Meet Our Lecturers

J. Theodore Peña is Professor of Roman Archaeology with Department of Classics at the University of California, Berkeley.  He holds his degrees from the University of Michigan (Ph.D.) and Wesleyan University, and his research interests include the archaeology of Roman and pre-Roman Italy, ancient economy and economic archaeology, material culture studies, text-based archaeology, and ceramic studies.  Professor Peña is Director of the Pompeii Artifact Life History Project and the Palatine East Pottery Project. He has published extensively, and his current projects include the Cambridge Handbook of Roman Pottery in the Mediterranean Basin (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).  Professor Peña is an AIA Joukowsky Lecturer for 2015/2016.

Barry Perlus is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art, and Associate Dean of the College of
Architecture, Art, and Planning at Cornell University. He has been teaching courses in photography at the
undergraduate and graduate level since 1984. His educational background includes an MFA from Ohio
University, and BA Undergraduate Scholar from Case Western Reserve University.

His artistic practice employs photography and digital imaging, with interests in light, space, and perspective.  Since 2001 he has been working with wide-angle and panoramic photography as a departure from conventional pictorial space. He is recognized for his project The Astronomical Observatories of Jai Singh, a multimedia website about India’s 18th century astronomy observatories:

Dr. Perlus is the AIA Webster Lecturer for 2015/2016.

Verity Platt is Associate Professor of Classics and History of Art with Cornell University, and holds her degrees from Christ Church, Oxford (D.Phil.), and the Courtald Institute of Art in London.  Her research interests include the history of Greek and Roman art, the relationship between text and objects, ancient theories of representation, concepts of art and the artist in antiquity, the material and visual culture of religion, Roman wall-painting and funerary art, and plaster casts and the theory of replication.  Professor Platt is the author of Facing the Gods: Epiphany and Representation in Graeco-Roman Art, Literature and Religion (Cambridge 2011), and co-editor (with Michael Squire) of The Art of Art History in Classical Antiquity (Arethusa, 2010) and A Cultural History of the Frame in Greek and Roman Art (Cambridge, forthcoming). As co-curator of Cornell University's plaster cast collection, she recently oversaw two exhibitions dedicated to the cultural, aesthetic, and pedagogical significance of casts in Europe and North America: Firing the Canon: the Cornell Casts and their Discontents, and Cast and Present: Replicating Antiquity in the Museum and the Academy.

Professor Platt is the AIA Hanfmann Lecturer for 2015/2016.

John M. D. Pohl is Director of the Institute for the Study of the Indigenous Civilizations of the Americas at California State University Los Angeles, and Adjunct Full Professor in the Department of Art History at UCLA. A specialist in the ancient art and writing of Mexico, Dr. Pohl is noted for bringing the ancient past to life using a wide variety of media and techniques. He has contributed to feature film production design with Dreamworks SKG, and to museum exhibition development with the Walt Disney Company’s Department of Cultural Affairs and the Princeton University Art Museum. His most recent endeavors include the acclaimed exhibitions, “The Aztec Pantheon and the Art of Empire,” for the Getty Villa Museum (2010) and “The Children of Plumed Serpent, the Legacy of Quetzalcoatl in Ancient Mexico,” for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Dallas Museum of Art (2012). Dr. Pohl has published numerous books and articles, including Exploring Mesoamerica and The Legend of Lord Eight Deer.

I am an environmental archaeologist with primary research interests in the long-term interactions between climate change, human land use, and landscape fires. My regional expertise is in the Southwestern US, but I maintain active research interests in the Northern Plains as well as Oceania. My research projects are necessarily interdisciplinary, often including dendrochronology, archaeology, ethnography, and sedimentary paleoecology. I received my PhD at the University of Arizona, where I maintain research collaborations as well as a faculty appointment at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research. I joined the faculty at SMU as an Assistant Professor in 2010.

I maintain theoretical interests in ecosystems ecology, particularly in the study of human impacts on social-ecological resilience and vulnerability. Sustainability issues, as framed by resilience theory, inform the questions that drive my research projects. How do human activities alter the response of ecosystems to climate change? What lessons can we learn for contemporary ecosystem management or restoration?

I maintain additional research interests in archaeological method and theory, particularly the combination of principles from behavioral archaeology with earth sciences methods and techniques to reconstruct past human behaviors - an approach that I call behavioral geoarchaeology. To this end, I use stratigraphy, micromorphology, and soil/sediment chemistry to reconstruct the life histories of ancient dwellings, ritual structures, and community spaces.


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