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.
Hebrew Psalms and the Utrecht Psalter: Veiled Origins. University Park, Pennsylvania: Penn State University Press, 2020.
The Crescent on the Temple: The Dome of the Rock as Image of the Ancient Jewish Sanctuary. Leiden: Brill, 2012.
The Goddess Obscured: Transformation of the Grain Protectress from Goddess to Saint. Boston: Beacon Press, 1985.
The Insignia in the Notitia Dignitatum. Garland, New York, 1981.
Articles and Book Chapters
"The Dome of the Rock as Image of the Ancient Temple in Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Art, Temples, Synagogues, Churches and Mosques," in Sacred Architecture in Palestine from the Bronze Age to Medieval Times. Edited by Jens Kemlah and Markus Witte. In the series Abhandlungen des Deutschen Palastina-Vereins. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2020.
"Through the Eyes of an Irish Slave." Co-written with Wayne Newell (Passamaquoddy tribal elder), in American Medieval, vol. II. Edited by Ulrike Wiethaus and Gillian Overing. Gottingen, Germany: V & R Unipress, 2019.
“Jewish-Muslim Veneration at Pilgrimage Places in the Holy Land," Religion and the Arts, 15, 2011, 1-60.
"The Temples/Tabernacles in the Dura Synagogue Paintings." Dura Europos, Crossroads of Antiquity. Edited by Lisa R. Brody and Gail L. Hoffman, 2011.
"Judges 19: A Perverse Version of Hospitality as Illustrated in the Bible Moralisée." New Aradia Review, Vol. 4, 2011. [electronic publication].
“Mice, Arrows and Tumors: Medieval Plague Iconography North of the Alps, in Piety and the Plague, Franco Mormando, editor, Truman State University Press, 2007.
“Avarice, Money and Judgment Day,” in Sacred/Secular, edited by Nancy Netzer and Virginia Reinberg, McMullen Museum, 2006.
“The Depiction of Jews in Early Passion Iconography,” in Pondering the Passion, edited by Philip A. Cunningham, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 2004.
"Sacred Landscapes: Two Watercolors by George Petrie," Eire/Land, edited by Vera Kreilkamp, 2003.
“Archaeology, Iconography, and the Recreation of the Past in Iron Age Holy Lands,” Religion and the Arts, 6, 4, 2002, 499-506.
"Crusade and Jihad: The Wars Known as Holy," Religion and the Arts, 5, 4, 2001, 484-494.
"Sculpted Body Parts from Ancient Healing Sanctuaries," in The Plume and the Palette, edited by Pamela Berger and Jeffery Howe, New York, Peter Lang, Inc. 2001.
"Grain Miracle" Medieval Folklore, An Encyclopedia of Myths, Legends, Tales, Beliefs, and Customs, Carl Lindahl, John McNamara, & John Lindow, editors, ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, California, 2000, 444-446.
"The Roots of Anti-Semitism in Medieval Visual Imagery: An Overview," Religion and the Arts, Spring, 2000.
"Images of Animosity, Visions of Vengeance," Religion and the Arts, Volume 3-1 (1999).
"Modern Propagators of Ancient Legends and Traditions: Mythic Memory or Serendipity?" in Re/Dressing Cathleen: Contemporary Works from Irish Women Artists, 1997, 57-62.
"The Film Sorceress: A Twentieth-century Recreation of a Medieval Memory," Memory in the Middle Ages, ed. by Nancy Netzer and Virginia Reinberg, 1995.
"The Star System: A Mediated Form of Censorship in the Creative Process of Filmmaking," Agni, Vol. 31/32.
"The Historical, the Sacred, the Romantic: Medieval Texts into Irish Watercolor," in Visualizing Ireland, Faber & Faber, 1993.
"The Bisexual Deity at Les Bolards and Gallo-Roman Springwater Therapies," Révue Archéologique de l'Est, Fall 1984.
"Many-Shaped Art, Archaeology, and the Tain," Eire-Ireland, Vol. 17, No. 4, Winter 1982.
"The Ardagh Chalice, Numerology, and the Stowe Missal," Eire-Ireland, Vol. 4, No. 3, Fall 1979.
"Two Insignia from the Notitia Dignitatum," in Inscape, 1978.
Sorceress. Pamela Berger, Writer (Story and Screenplay), Co-Producer and Co-Screenwriter. Lara Classics, Inc., 1987. Shot in both English, “Sorceress (English Language Version),” and French, “Sorceress (French with English Subtitles).” Lara Classics, Inc., Streaming on Amazon in both versions.
The Imported Bridegroom. Pamela Berger, Writer, Producer and Director. 1989. Lara Classics, Inc., DVD distributed by National Center for Jewish Film.
Killian’s Chronicle: The Magic Stone. Pamela Berger, Writer (Story and Screenplay), Co-Producer and Director. 1994. Lara Classics, Inc., Streaming on YouTube.
Imported Bridegroom: The Musical, 1998 (music: Hankus Netsky and Joanne Baker; book and lyrics: Pamela Berger).
Review of The Image and Its Prohibition in Jewish Antiquity, edited by Sarah Pearce. Oxford: Journal of Jewish Studies, 2013. Art Bulletin online. College Art Association online publication. http://www.caareviews.org/reviews/2334#.XDZNePxOnow
Review of Luther Lind, The Devil: the Archfiend in Art, From the Sixth to the Sixteenth Century. In Religion and the Arts. Vol. 3, no. 2, 1999, 267-269.
Review of Mireille Mentre, Illuminated Manuscripts of Medieval Spain. In Religion and the Arts, Vol. 2, no. 3, 1998. 386-388.