Classics > People > Faculty Members > Jas Elsner

Prof. Jas' Elsner
BA PhD Camb, MA Lond, MA Oxf


Fellow and Tutor in Classics, Corpus Christi College
Humfry Payne Senior Research Fellow in Classical Archaeology and Art, Faculty of Classics
Professor of Late Antique Art, Faculty of Classics


Corpus Christi College

Tel No: (01865) 276721

Prof. Jas' Elsner


I was born and brought up in London, and then studied Classics and Art History at Cambridge, Harvard and London, taking my doctorate from King's College Cambridge in 1991. I am married with four children, who keep me thoroughly occupied when I am not at work! After a research fellowship at Jesus College Cambridge, I taught the art history of Greek and Roman antiquity at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London for 8 years as a Lecturer and Reader, before coming to the Humfry Payne Senior Research Fellowship in Classical Art and Archaeology at Corpus in 1999. I have been a regular Visiting Professor of the History of Art at the University of Chicago since 2003 and have held visiting attachments at the British School at Rome, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan and Princeton University. I serve on the editorial boards of a number of Journals around the world and am joint editor of a monograph series, Greek Culture in the Roman World, with the Cambridge University Press.

Research Keywords:

Classical and Late Antique Art, the Reception of Ancient Art, Ekphrasis

Research Interests:

My main interest is the art of the Roman empire, broadly conceived to include late antiquity and the early middle ages including Byzantium as well as the pre-Christian Classical world. I began my researches by looking at the way art was viewed in antiquity -- and this has led to an interest in all kinds of reception from ritual and pilgrimage in the case of religious art to the literary description of art (including the rhetorical technique known as ekphrasis) to the more recent collecting and display of art as well as its modern historiography and receptions. Since the art of antiquity has such a privileged, indeed canonical, position in our culture, the study of its receptions is an exploration of more recent history's varied, competing and often ideologically understandings of its own past.

Selected Publications:

'Decorative Imperatives between Concealment and Display: The Form of Sarcophagi', in Sarcophagi Chinese and Greco-Roman, Elsner J, Hung W, Pelizzi F (eds.), (RES 2012).

'Material Culture and Ritual', in Architecture of the Sacred: Space and Experience in Mediterranean Architecture from Classical Greece to Byzantium, Ousterhout R, Westcoat B (eds.), (Cambridge University Press 2012).

'Sacrifice in Late Roman Art', in Greek and Roman Animal Sacrifice: Ancient Victims, Modern Observers, Faraone C, Naiden F (eds.), (Cambridge University Press 2012).

'Sarcophagus East and West: An Introduction', Hung W, Elsner J (eds.), (RES 2012).

'The Lycurgus Cup', in Glass, Entwhistle C, James L (eds.), (London University 2012).

'A Golden Age of Gothic', in Studies in Honour of Paul Crossley, Opacic Z, Timmermann A (eds.), (London University 2011).

'Apology and Polemic in Early Christian Sarcophagi: Reflections on Jesus' Trial', in Life, Death and Representation, Elsner J, Huskinson J (eds.), (Walter de Gruyter 2011), 359-386.

'Pharoah's Army Got Drowned : Some Reflections on Jewish Narrative and Christian Meaning in Late Antiquity', in Judaism and Christian art, Kessler HL, Nirenberg D (eds.), (Univ of Pennsylvania Pr 2011), 10-44.

'Saints: Faith at the Borders', Elsner J, Meltzer F (eds.), (University Of Chicago Press 2011).

'The Transfigured Mountain: Icons and Transformations of Pilgrimage at the Monastery of St Catherine at Mount Sinai', in Approaching the Holy Mountain, Gerstel SEJ, Nelson R (eds.), (Brepols Pub 2011), 37-71.

'Alois Riegl and Classical Archaeology', in Alois Riegl Revisited, Noever P, Rosenauer A, Vasold G (eds.), (Austrian Academy of Sciences 2010), 45-57.

'Art history as ekphrasis', Art History, Vol: 33, (2010), 10-27.

'Image and site: Castiglione Olona in the early fifteenth century', Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics, Vol: 57-58, (2010), 156-173.

Life, Death and Representation, (Walter de Gruyter 2010).

Receptions of Pausanias: From Winckelmann to Frazer, Elsner J (ed.), (2010).

'A Protean Corpus', in Philostratus, Bowie E, Elsner J (eds.), (Cambridge Univ Pr 2009), 3-18.

'Beyond Compare: Pagan Saint and Christian God in Late Antiquity', Critical Inquiry, Vol: 35, (2009), 655-683.

'P.Artemid: The Images', in Images and texts on the "Artemidorus Papyrus", Brodersen K, Elsner J (eds.), (Franz Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden gmbh 2009), 35-50.

'The Christian Museum in Southern France: Antiquity, Display and Liturgy from the Counter-Reformation to the Aftermath of Vatican II', Oxford Art Journal, Vol: 32, (2009), 181-204.

Faith Without Borders: the Curious Category of the Saint, Elsner J, Meltzer F (eds.), (University of Chicago Press 2009).

Images and texts on the "Artemidorus Papyrus", Brodersen K, Elsner J (eds.), (Franz Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden gmbh 2009).

Philostratus, (Cambridge Univ Pr 2009).

'E.Panofsky, On the Relationship of Art History and Art Theory: Towards the possibility of a fundamental system of concepts for a science of art', Co-author: Panofsky E, Critical Inquiry, Vol: 35, (2008), 43-71.

'Framing Objects We Study: Three Boxes from Late Roman Italy', Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, (2008), 21-38.

Roman Eyes: Visuality and Subjectivity in Art and Text, (Princeton U.P 2007).

Pilgrimage in Greco-Roman and Early Christian Antiquity: Seeing the Gods, J. Elsner and I. Rutherford (eds.), (Oxford University Press 2005).

Imperial Rome and Christian Triumph: The Art of the Roman Empire A.D. 100-450, (Oxford: Oxford History of Art (OUP) 1998).

The Cultures of Collecting (editor, with Roger Cardinal). Translated into Japanese and published in Tokyo (Kenkyusha), 1998., (London (Reaktion Books), Cambridge Mass. (Harvard University Press) and Melbourne (Melbourne University Press), 1994 1998).

Art and the Roman Viewer: The Transformation of Art from the Pagan World to Christianity, (Cambridge, New York and Melbourne (CUP) 1995).

Pilgrimage Past and Present: Sacred Travel and Sacred Space in the World Religions, Co-author: Simon Coleman, (London (British Museum Press) and Cambridge Mass. (Harvard University Press) 1995).

'Art and Rhetoric in Roman Culture: Introduction', in Art and Rhetoric in Roman Culture, Elsner J, Meyer M (eds.), (Cambridge University Press (n.d.)).

'Cultural Histories of the Material World', in Cultural Histories of the Material World, Miller P (ed.), (Ann Arbor (n.d.)).

'Green Curtains and Picture Covers: Towards an Archaeology of the Pictorial Closet', in Intersubjective Encounters: Re-examining the Work of Adrian Rifkin, Arnold D (ed.), (London (I.B. Tauris) (n.d.)).

'Iconcolasm as Discourse: From Antiquity to Byzantium', The Art Bulletin, ((n.d.)).

'Rational, Passionate and Appetitive: The Psychology of Rhetoric and the Transformation of Visual Culture from non-Christian to Christian Sarcophagi in the Roman World', in Art and Rhetoric in Roman Culture, Elsner J, Meyer M (eds.), (Cambridge University Press (n.d.)).

'Relic, Icon and Architecture: The Material Articulation of the Holy in East Christian Art', in Saints and Sacred Matter: the Cult of Relics in Byzantium and Beyond, Hahn C, Klein H (eds.), (Dumbarton Oaks Publications (n.d.)).

'Visual Ontologies: Style, Archaism and the Construction of the Sacred in the Western Tradition', in Framing Antiquity, Platt V, Squire M (eds.), (Cambridge University Press (n.d.)).

Rational, Passionate and Appetitive: The Psychology of Rhetoric and the Transformation of Visual Culture from non-Christian Sarcophagi in the Roman World, Elsner J, Meyer M (eds.), (University of Cambridge (n.d.)).