Marlboro College

Academics Erin Benay - Art History

Teaching Philosophy

Erin has worked in museums such as The Currier Museum in Manchester, NH and The Morgan Library in New York, and at Rutgers University and Drew University. These positions have facilitated a teaching philosophy that integrates independent student projects with field trips to view works of art in the museum context. Here at Marlboro, Erin routinely takes students to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. She believes it is important that students leave their art history classes not having simply memorized names, dates, and titles, but having made more meaningful connections to sometimes remote, sometimes more recent times in history. She states that "on-site classes, foreign study, and community outreach are the best ways to relate canonical works of art and architecture to broader sociological and cultural themes that are often more relevant to students’ lives." Such excursions help to make survey courses more immediate and exciting, as students view ‘real’ art in their own topography.

Research Interests

Erin’s dissertation, The Pursuit of Truth and the Doubting Thomas in the Art of Early Modern Italy, concerns the Doubting Thomas and evaluates how in paintings and sculptures the image engaged with contemporary beliefs about the efficacy of the senses, in particular touch and sight. She envisions her work as a contribution to the ongoing discussion about how art stimulates belief through the senses.

One aspect of Erin’s work regarding Cima da Conegliano’s two altarpieces of the Doubting Thomas, will be published in the forthcoming issue of Arte Veneta. Another aspect, the relationship of Caravaggio’s painting to the broader Catholic renewal in Rome, is the topic of her contribution to a new anthology dedicated to recent scholarship on the artist to be published by Ashgate in 2012. Most recently, Erin’s research has expanded on the connotations of touch for secular belief; she will give a talk on depictions of tactile inquiry and the role of empirical evidence at the annual meeting of the Renaissance Society of America in Venice in spring, 2010.

B.A., University of New Hampshire; M.A., Rutgers University, 2006. Ph.D., Rutgers University, 2009; Marlboro College, 2008 -


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