Nicole Paxton Sullo

Mary Seeger O'Boyle Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2021-2022

  • Degree
    Ph.D., Art History, Yale University, 2020
    Dissertation
    The Art of Memory in Byzantium During the Later Middle Ages
    Research Project
    The Byzantine Art of Memory
Contact Info

Nicole Paxton Sullo specializes in the art of Byzantium and the history of memory in the medieval eastern Mediterranean. Focusing on the interplay between art making and cognitive processes, her research explores questions of memory and communal transformation that speak to societies in flux. Her current book project, The Byzantine Art of Memory, takes an interdisciplinary approach to investigate shifts in the theorization of memory and uncover how these changes both defined and were informed by visual culture. Further research interests include: the art of medieval Serbia; narratives of exile following Constantinople’s fall in 1453; cultural memory in the post-Byzantine diaspora; early modern and contemporary perceptions of “Byzantium”; the relationship between word and image; and cross-cultural dialogues on memory.  Sullo received her Ph.D. from Yale University. She holds an MA in Art History from the University of Notre Dame, where her research focused on iconographic and linguistic hybridity in the wall paintings of southern Italian rock-cut churches. Her research has been supported by the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery of Art, the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, and the Medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame. Prior to coming to Princeton, she was an assistant editor at The Yale Review and lecturer in the History of Art department at Yale as a Graduate Alumni fellow. She has taught courses on pre-modern memory and cognition, Byzantine art, and the history of medieval Art History.

About the Research Project

The Byzantine Art of Memory

The Byzantine Art of Memory presents the first comprehensive study of the theorization and practice of memory in the medieval eastern Mediterranean (ca. 1000–1500). While much attention has been paid to the subject of memory and mnemonics in western Europe, ideas about memory in the Greek-speaking east have remained unexplored. At once an art historical and intellectual history of memory, this project garners from a range of evidence—manuscript illumination, monumental painting, letters, poems, habits of book collecting—to glimpse vestiges of memory’s everyday use. Gathering these fragments, the book compiles a history of the invisible, transitory inner-processes of remembering and forgetting. Methodologically engaging the dual formation of individual intellect and communal identity, Sullo explores societal shifts which, on the one hand, led to changing concepts of memory, and on the other, shaped the manipulation of cultural memory through visual means. The book examines the role of memory in monastic contemplation, knowledge acquisition, conceptions of temporality, and the production of sacred images to establish a new framework for interpreting innovations in art in the Byzantine milieu.

Current Roles

  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow