Professor, Art History and Film
Art History Minor Coordinator
Professor Berger teaches Medieval Art from 300 CE through 1425. Her special interest is iconography - the meaning of the image in its time - and most of her research deals with iconographic interpretation. Her most recent book, The Crescent on the Temple, is about how the Dome of the Rock came to stand for the Temple of Solomon in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim art. That “Temple,” represented as the Muslim shrine, is often surmounted by a crescent.
Professor Berger teaches two medieval Art History courses. “Mysteries and Visions” begins with the art of the waning classical world where, in addition to the imagery of Judaism and early Christianity, one finds the magico-religious art of the mystery cults of Cybele, Isis, and Mithra. Berger then treats the mosaics of the First Golden Ages of Byzantine Art, Celtic-Early Christian Irish art, and the Carolingian "Renaissance." She also introduces students to the art of the Vikings and of Islamic Spain. In “Image and Imagination” the students study the symbolism and the multiplicity of meanings in works of art from Mozarabic Spain, and from the Romanesque and Gothic north. The students will learn about the various styles of architecture, sculpture and painting, as well as the ideological and social contexts in which the images were produced.
Professor Berger is also a filmmaker who has written, produced, and/or directed three feature films. “Sorceress” tells the story of a medieval woman who is accused of being a heretic but is actually a healer. The second film, which she wrote, produced and directed, is “The Imported Bridegroom.” In this comedy set in Boston in 1900, a father tries to find, back in the Old Country, a perfect bridegroom for his Americanized daughter. She takes one look at the boy he brings back and is appalled. “Killian’s Chronicle,” Professor Berger's third film, is about an Irish slave who escapes from a Viking ship and is rescued by Native Americans five hundred years before the arrival of Columbus.
Professor Berger teaches two film courses: Students in “Cinema of Revolution and Revolt” examine the causes and nature of revolutions and revolts as depicted in selected films. In “Cinema of the Greater Middle East,” Berger presents a series of films from the Middle East in an effort to help the students understand the cultural/historical context in which the films were created. These courses explore the point of view of the filmmakers and how the scripts and the shooting styles serve to accomplish their ends.