Professors Also Scholars in the Classroom

Art history professors play dual roles teaching art history courses while also doing scholarly work


As accomplished professors, both Dr. Jane Long and Dr. Justin Wolff of the College's art history program acknowledge that learning is a perpetual process. They maintain their zeal for learning by continuing scholarly work while quenching their students' thirst for knowledge.

Long finds that her ideas for research are often influenced by events in the classroom. She is currently working on a paper that she says "came right out of the classroom." It's titled "The Survival and Reception of the Classical Nude: Venus in the Middle Ages" and will be presented at the International Congress of Medieval Art.

"Teaching is very important to me. I try to make complex ideas understandable to students, and I find the process of doing that gives me new ideas for scholarship," Long says.

Long has published and presented several papers and articles while teaching at the College. Some have included "Franciscan Chapel Decoration: The St. Silvester Cycle of Maso di Banco at Santa Croce in Florence," "Botticelli's Birth of Venus as Wedding Painting" and "Botticelli's Birth of Venus as Epithalamium."

However, teaching remains a priority for Long, who says that her desire to be at an institution where "teaching was important" was essential to her choosing Roanoke.

The significance she places on education and her passion for scholarship combine to make Long not only a teacher, but a scholar as well. "Teaching in the classroom is group work; it's the students and professors working together to figure out whether we understand something. Research is solitary, so these two activities serve to fulfill two different sides of my personality," she says.

Art history isn't merely a subject to Long, but a lifelong obsession. "I am passionate about art history," she says. Long's enthusiasm for the subject is evident in the direct path she took with her education, attaining a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University, a master's degree and a doctorate from Columbia University, all three in art history.

Like Long, Wolff has a zeal for art history that is manifested in his teaching as much as it is in his scholarly works.

Wolff has taught various art history courses at Harvard University; the University of California, San Diego; and Princeton University.

Filling a newly endowed professorship at Roanoke, Wolff says "living up to the spirit of the endowment" and his attraction to liberal arts principles were his main motivations to teach at the College.

Attempting to fill the role of teacher and scholar simultaneously can be challenging, but Wolff does it eagerly. He says, "I try to let my enthusiasm for research show in the classroom" because he hopes to demonstrate to students the rewards of scholarship.

In 2002, Wolff successfully published a book titled Richard Caton Woodville: American Painter, Artful Dodger. He is currently working on another book and two essays.

The process of research keeps Wolff searching to find new depths in art. "I think of myself as a life-long student, constantly wrestling with paintings and texts. I don't see myself as a finished product," he says.

Wolff earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from Bowdoin College and his doctorate from Princeton University in the department of art and archaeology.

Wolff filled the Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo Professorship in Art History. Cassullo '78, a member of the board of trustees, took an American art history course while attending Roanoke. She says "[it] awoke in me a lifelong passion for art and art history that continues to inform who I am today."


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