I teach courses on South Asian art, architecture, and culture, and my research focuses on material culture in eastern India from the seventeenth century to the present. My book Temple to Love: Architecture and Devotion in Seventeenth-Century Bengal identifies the emergence of a new architectural formation in the religious and political environment of the seventeenth century. I am interested in ethnographic approaches and how current practices, such as ritual and oral lore can help inform us about the pre-modern period. Currently I am working on the terra cotta ornamentation on Bengal temples and the role of visual imagery in a predominantly oral culture. A second project focuses on the narrative scrolls painted by itinerant painter-minstrels called patuas to entertain rural audiences. I am interested in the role of artistic production in the formation of the colonial capital at Calcutta in the nineteenth century, and in the ways in which colonial and nationalist dialogue both shaped categorization and collecting, and was also defined by these preoccupations.
My courses involve close study of works of art in the Ackland Art Museum and my graduate students have created a catalogue of the South Asian sculptures in that collection.
Books, Articles, Encyclopedia Entries, Reviews