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Austen Leigh LaRocca

Bio

Austen Leigh LaRocca is a New Jersey native who concentrates on the art of the ancient world and how it is received and interpreted in subsequent contexts. As a scholar in Cultural Heritage Studies, as well as Art History, Dr. LaRocca approaches material culture through an interdisciplinary lens that examines how and why we study objects and their interpretive contexts. Her recent dissertation “Arches & Memory: A Diachronic View of Roman Material Culture” looks at freestanding arch monuments in the ancient city of Rome and explores not only their significance in the ancient world, but their use as political and cultural symbols from Late Antiquity to the present.

Other avenues of research include the role of art in armed conflicts, the illicit antiquities trade, the ideological examination of monuments and memorials, as well as the preservation and conservation of objects, sites, and structures. Her archaeological experiences include excavations at Selinunte, Sicily and Aphrodisias, Turkey. 

Special Interests/Specialties
  • Roman portraiture & sculpture
  • The Eastern Roman Empire
  • Diachronic approaches to material culture
  • Archaeology & conflict
  • Monuments & memorials
Memberships
  • College Art Association
  • Archaeological Institute of America
Invited Papers
  • Roman Arches & the Problem of Universal Triumph 
    Tufts University Art History Symposium: Mediating Myth: Image and Object as Critical Intercessor, Medford, MA, March 2023
  • Arches & Memory: A Diachronic View of Roman Material Culture 
    SECAC (formerly the Southeastern College Art Conference) Annual Conference, Chattanooga, TN, October 2019
  • Constructing the Sacred: The Architectural Negotiation of Religious Identity in the Eastern Roman Empire 
    Society of Biblical Literature Annual Conference, Boston, MA, November 2017.
  • The Visual Language of the Roman Imperial Cult 
    Rising Up: Resurgences and Revivals in the Ancient World, Department of Classics, SUNY Buffalo, NY, October 2016.
Upcoming Events
  • “The Ancient Roman Forum as 19th Century Political Park” SECAC Annual Conference (formerly the Southeastern College Art Conference) Richmond, VA, October 2023
  • “The Arch of Constantine in Rome’s Fascist Streetscape” Archaeological Institute of America Annual Conference, Chicago, IL, January 2024
  • “Rethinking the Roman Empire for the Classroom,” College Art Association Annual Conference, Chicago IL, 2024
Assistant Professor - Art History

Office:
186 Noel Fine Arts Center

Education

PhD - Art History and Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

MA - Art History and Archaeology
Institute of Fine Arts, NYU

BA - Art History, Classics, English
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ