Professor Benay is a specialist in early modern art, with a particular focus on Italian painting, sculpture, and printmaking c. 1550-1650. Her teaching and research interests include Caravaggio and the Caravaggisti; sensory perception, gender issues, and devotional art; the history of collecting and knowledge in 17th-century Europe; travel, ethnology, and visualizations of the ‘global;’ prints and printed matter 1500-1700; and the history of science and art.
Her recent research examines the relationship of empiricism and the senses to early modern painting and is the subject of her current book manuscript Touch Me, Touch Me Not: Faith, Gender and the Senses in Italian Renaissance and Baroque Art, written in collaboration with Lisa Maria Rafanelli (Manhattanville College). Prof. Benay is the author of “Touching is Believing: Caravaggio’s Doubting Thomas in Counter-Reformatory Rome,” (forthcoming from Ashgate), and other peer-reviewed articles on the topic of devotional art and sensory engagement in Italian Renaissance art. Prof. Benay’s ongoing research projects include an article about Caravaggist paintings in the collections of 17th-century noblemen, and an exploration of how travel between Italy and South Asia complicated the iconological construction of saints’ lives, titled Italy By Way of India: Routes of Devotional Knowledge in the Early Modern Period.
Prior to joining the faculty at CWRU in 2012, Prof. Benay taught at the State University of New York, Oswego and at Marlboro College in Vermont. She was a curatorial assistant at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire, the Zimmerli Museum at Rutgers University, and at the Morgan Library in New York. She has been the recipient of a number of awards and grants, including the Samuel H. Kress grant in Renaissance Art History, and has been invited to speak at numerous conferences and symposia in the United States and Europe.
Mather House Room 316
Ph.D. Rutgers University, 2009
M.A. Rutgers University
B.A. University of New Hampshire