Jennifer Ball

Mary Seeger O'Boyle Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2002-2003

  • Degree
    Ph.D., Byzantine Art, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 2001
    Dissertation
    Byzantine Dress
    Research Project
    Representations of Secular Dress from the 8th - 12th Centuries

Jennifer Ball received her doctorate in Byzantine Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU in September of 2001. Her dissertation deals with representations of dress in the Middle Byzantine period, which is the subject of the book she will be working on at Princeton. In addition to her research in Byzantine dress, Ball's interests include shared Islamic-Byzantine material culture, portraiture in the medieval world, and textiles and fashion theory in general. Prior to graduate school she did extensive museum work, primarily at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but also at several contemporary art museums; modern and contemporary work remains an interest. She has had several undergraduate teaching opportunities in the past few years, most recently at Colgate University where she taught medieval and Islamic art courses.  [Last Updated 2003]

About the Research Project

Representations of Secular Dress from the 8th - 12th Centuries

Contrary to what one might assume, the study of Byzantine dress relies little on textile evidence. No single complete garment survives from the Middle Byzantine period and very few textiles in general endure, primarily due to the fragility of cloth. Of the extant textiles from eighth to twelfth centuries, fewer than fifteen percent likely comprised a garment as most surviving fragments derive from wall hangings, furnishings, liturgical cloths and the like. Embroidery which ornamented all but the simplest of Middle Byzantine garments was typically detached by later archaeologists and art dealers, removing what in their minds was of aesthetic and historical interest from a drab linen tunic or plain wool robe. This talk will cover methods used in determining which textiles once belonged to articles of clothing. How these fragments can further our understanding of dress, usually studied in portraits and literary descriptions, will also be explored. The size and design of patterns, fabric weight and quality yield a tangible image of the typical Byzantine outfit. The case studies chosen for this workshop represent a larger group of dress fragments being compiled for the study of Middle Byzantine secular dress.  [Last Updated 2003]

Publications

  • Byzantine Dress. Representations of Secular Dress in Eighth to Twelfth Century Painting
    Palgrave-Macmillan,

Previous Roles

  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    2002 - 2003