Dr. Sara Nair James

Welcome to My Web Page!

IMG_2145How to Find Me:

Department:   Art and Art History

E-mail:  sjames@mbc.edu (the best way to reach me)

after 30 August: sjames@marybaldwin.edu

Mailing address: Deming Fine Arts Building, Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, VA 24401 USA


Ape Reading in the Library of Antonio Alberi at OrvietoWho I am:  I am Professor Emerita of Art History at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia,  located in the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley.  I have recently retired to pursue other interests.   I am also an active scholar in Italian Renaissance art history. My latest book is Art in England from the Saxons to the Tudors: 600-1600.  It’s taken 15 years of work and I am thrilled with the beauty of the final product.  For more information, click on this link:http://www.oxbowbooks.com/dbbc/art-in-england.html

I also recently published an article in the prestigious medieval art journal Gesta, published by the University of Chicago for the International Center of Medieval Art at the Cloisters, New York City. “St. Joseph in Ugolino di Prete Ilario’s Life of the Virgin at Orvieto: Pater Familias and Artisan of the Soul.”Gesta 55/1 ( 2016): 79-104.  I also published an article on Staunton’s fine Tiffany glass in a book. “A Retrospective of Fine American Stained Glass: The Windows of Trinity Church, Staunton, Virginia,” in Radiance and Symbolism in Modern Stained Glass: European and American Innovations, edited by Liana Cheney, 12-45.Cambridge [UK]: Cambridge Scholar Publishing, 2016.

My earlier book, Signorelli and Fra Angelico at Orvieto: Liturgy Poetry and a Vision of the Endtime (Aldershot,UK/Burlington,VT, Ashgate Publishing, 2003) is available from Amazon.  I’ve also published chapters, articles, and book reviews, and presented papers  at scholarly conferences on Luca Signorelli, Giorgio Vasari, Cardinal Wolsey, various narrative painting cycles in Orvieto, Italian Renaissance Art, and Medieval-Renaissance English Art.

In retirement I plan to continue trips abroad working with the Smithsonian in their educational travel division called Smithsonian Journeys.  It’s aimed at adults who like an educational component to travel, but they also arrange student and alumnae tours. I hope to see some MBC faces! For more information click this link: http://www.smithsonianjourneys.org/experts/sara-james/

What I Taught:

Art history is a fundamentally object-based cultural and artistic history, which is fundamentally interdisciplinary.  The discipline rests on the principle that objects of art and craft exemplify and mirror the ideals and beliefs of the people who designed, fabricated, commissioned, and used them. Unlike  historical disciplines that are text-based, the history of art documents and interprets changes in human society by examining works of art, artifacts, and other objects of material culture as its primary sources. The history of art further requires the critical analysis and interpretation of written texts to help document and illuminate the contexts—social, economic, political, religious—in which artifacts are produced and used.Studies in art history equip students with the fundamental skills and perspectives of the liberal arts: to think clearly and critically, to write well, and to find, analyze, evaluate, and present facts and ideas.

The beauties of teaching in a small liberal arts college are many. I am able to get to know my students and be their advocate for jobs or graduate school when they need it.  I am able to teach broadly: Ancient Greece and Rome, Medieval European art, Italian Renaissance Art, Northern Renaissance painting,  Baroque Art and Architecture (Seventeenth Century in Europe). I also teach more focused colloquia on various periods (Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance) as well as on Michelangelo and the Cities of Florence and Rome.

559162_692105294136362_2012639869_nWhy Study Art History and the Liberal Arts? The Liberal Arts, regardless of your field of study, prepare you for life, improve the quality of your life, broaden your horizons, and open doors for you. They teach you to read, write, and think, to form your own informed opinions. A liberal education is the heart of a democratic republic: you must have an educated populus for democracy to work.

rom.08.054 May Term in Italy is cancelled with my retirement, but you can find other abroad opportunities at Mary Baldwin or consider joining a Smithsonian Journey. :

I’ve maintained a  website since 2000.  I use this web page for information, announcements, resources, and other communications.