Robson Junior Professor, Associate Professor of Art History, Interim Director of Graduate Studies
Ph.D. Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
MA Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
B.A. Williams College
Professor Popkin specializes in ancient Roman art and architecture. Her research interests include the relationship between architecture, art, and spectacle in the Roman world and the impact of visual culture on memory, cultural affinities, and power dynamics in the ancient world.
Prof. Popkin has published articles on a range of topics, from archaic Greek vase painting to materiality in Republican Roman architecture. Her articles have appeared in edited volumes and journals including Hesperia, the American Journal of Archaeology, the Art Bulletin, the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, and the Journal of Late Antiquity. She has presented her research at numerous national and international conferences and colloquia. Her first book, The Architecture of the Roman Triumph: Monuments, Memory, and Identity (Cambridge University Press, 2016), examines the monuments built along the path of the Roman triumph, an elaborate ritual celebrating Roman military victories over foreign peoples, and their role in shaping how Romans experienced and remembered the triumphal ritual. Her second book, Souvenirs and the Experience of Empire in Ancient Rome (Cambridge University Press, 2022), investigates ancient souvenirs and memorabilia and their profound role in mediating memory, knowledge, and cultural affinities in the Roman Empire. Her edited volume, Future Thinking in Roman Culture: New Approaches to History, Memory, and Cognition (co-edited with Diana Ng; Routledge, 2022) examines the impact of future-oriented cognition on Roman art and literature. Her current research examines the material and visual culture of ancient sport and its role in creating, sustaining, and subverting power structures in the Roman Empire; and the potential of extended reality technologies for studying embodied religion and sacred space.
Before joining the faculty at CWRU, Prof. Popkin was the Samothrace Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Fine Arts-NYU and Emory University. She has taught classes at the University of Hartford and New York University and has worked in the education departments of the Williams College Museum of Art and the Smith College Museum of Art. She has excavated at Selinunte in Sicily and at Samothrace in Greece, where she is an ongoing member of the archaeological team and a principal investigator for a project to explore the original context of the famous Nike of Samothrace; this project, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, among other institutions, was recently featured on the cover of Archaeology magazine. Professor Popkin has received numerous grants and awards, including from the Fulbright Program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Max Planck Institute’s Memoria Romana International Research Project, CWRU’s Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, the American Academy in Rome (where she held the 2020-2021 Andrew Heiskell Rome Prize in Ancient Studies), and the CWRU Expanding Horizons Initiative.