The Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies supports more than a dozen fellows each year who conduct intensive research at Princeton. Former Seeger fellows have published hundreds of books with leading publishers and thousands of articles. Their scholarship reflects the broad, interdisciplinary nature of Hellenic Studies, spanning fields from history to religion to literature and periods from antiquity to the present.

In the latest installment of our Director’s Bookshelf series, Seeger Center Director Dimitri Gondicas speaks with Anthi Andronikou about her book Italy, Cyprus, and Artistic Exchange in the Medieval Mediterranean, published by Cambridge University Press. Andronikou is a lecturer at the University of Glasgow and was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Seeger Center in the 2017-2018 academic year. 

This interview has been edited and condensed.

How did this book project begin?  

This book is the outcome of my gradual academic formation, first as a researcher of Byzantine art and later as a scholar of early modern Italian visual culture. As a graduate student in Athens almost fifteen years ago, I wrote a dissertation on Saint Nicholas at Klonari in rural Limassol in Cyprus, a sixteenth-century chapel brimming with wall paintings. While researching that chapel, I realized the impact of Italian Trecento art on its frescoes. An extraordinary new universe of art opened for me. I embarked on a Master of Letters in Late Medieval and Renaissance Italian art and focused on the visual culture and the civic, devotional, and social practices of premodern and early modern Italy. In retrospect, writing a book combining my scholarly interests in Byzantine and Italian studies was inevitable. As a person and scholar, I have always been fascinated by culturally liminal zones and entanglements.

Please tell us about your time at the Seeger Center and the research you conducted then.

My experience at the Seeger Center was among the best I’ve ever had as a researcher in an academic setting. The center provides a dynamic and thriving intellectual environment where you can mingle with bright, welcoming, and supportive individuals in a relaxed context. I thoroughly enjoyed the weekly seminars and, of course, the legendary Monday lunch! At the center, one can meet wonderful people, share research and ideas, and receive encouragement and constructive feedback. I was fortunate to meet colleagues with whom I have formed lasting connections. I felt like being at home, as if I were part of a larger academic family.

The research I conducted forms part of my second monograph, a larger interdisciplinary project that examines instances of cultural translation in the visual arts across the eastern Mediterranean between 1200 and 1300 C.E. At Princeton, I used theoretical tools from translation theories to examine relevant artifacts. I took advantage of Firestone’s wonderful resources and studied intensive elementary Arabic, which has proven very helpful.

How did that research impact your work?

Several ideas presented in my first monograph were enriched or improved thanks to my time at Princeton, interactions with colleagues, and comments I received when I shared my work in a seminar at the Seeger Center. The research I conducted at Princeton features prominently in my second book project, which I hope to share with the Seeger Center community soon.

What would you like your readers to learn from Italy, Cyprus, and Artistic Exchange in the Medieval Mediterranean?

At risk of stating the obvious, I would be delighted if my readers understood that no culture is an island, no culture exists in isolation, and that the most fascinating cultural dialogues take place in the interstices, including visual ones. For example, I would love to know that my book helped readers become more familiar with cultural encounters in the medieval Mediterranean and learn more about non-Western European visual cultures, such as those of the Christians who inhabited Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine. As a Cypriot, I would like my readers to familiarize themselves with Cyprus and its complex past. I would be excited if my book inspires early career scholars to investigate the diverse cultural and artistic traditions that shaped medieval Cyprus and its interactions with neighboring cultures.

A transformative journey to Greece inspired Stanley J. Seeger to found Hellenic Studies programs at Princeton in 1979. Please tell us about a journey that expanded your intellectual horizons or influenced your research. 

One of the first journeys that broadened my intellectual horizons was virtual rather than physical. When I was fifteen, my schoolmates gave me an extraordinary birthday gift: a monumental volume titled The Greek Museums. Every time I looked through this lavish book, with its impressive full-page color images, it was like visiting another world. I knew from that moment that I wanted to devote my future to the study of the past.

You recently started a position at the University of Glasgow. Please tell us about your new role.

I started as a lecturer in History of Art (1350-1700) in January 2024. In the U.K., a lecturer is equivalent to an assistant professor in the U.S. My responsibilities include research and teaching, service and administrative duties, and contribution to knowledge exchange activities within my subject area, the School of Culture & Creative Arts, and beyond.