Patricia Blessing  Assistant Professor


Patricia Blessing

Assistant ProfessorIslamic Art/Architectural History


Ph.D., Princeton University 2012

Patricia Blessing specializes the art and architecture of the Islamic world, with a focus on the eastern Mediterranean and Iran from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries. Her first book, Rebuilding Anatolia after the Mongol Conquest: Islamic Architecture in the Lands of Rūm, 1240–1330 (Ashgate, 2014; Turkish translation Koç University Press, 2018) investigates the relationship between patronage, politics, and architectural style after the integration of the region into the Mongol empire. Blessing argues that because patrons under Mongol rule acted largely independently, architecture became increasingly bound to local building practices and styles. Architecture was thus not a reflection of ethnic, religious, or imperial identities, but rather the result of far-reaching socio-economic change.

Blessing has written several articles on the emergence of Islamic art history. Initially, the focus of mostly European scholars was classifying Islamic art as Persian, Arab, and Turkish, categories defined in ethnic and racial terms. After World War I, narratives shifted towards national boundaries and political ideologies of new nation states, based on cultural homogeneity. Deployed by local government officials and scholars alike, these narratives were soon adopted by international researchers. Blessing has written on the historiography of medieval Islamic architecture in Turkey, Iran, and Armenia – countries divided by borders since World War I, but closely connected throughout the Middle Ages.

Blessing has received fellowships from the Society of Architectural Historians, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the International Center of Medieval Art, the Barakat Trust, and the Gerda Henkel Foundation. Before coming to Princeton, she was assistant professor of art history at Pomona College.

At Princeton, she serves on the executive committee of the Program in Archaeology, and is affiliated with the Program in Medieval Studies. Blessing is the treasurer of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association, and an associate editor with the International Journal of Islamic Architecture.

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Current Research

Blessing’s second book, Architecture and Material Politics in the Fifteenth-century Ottoman Empire is under contract with Cambridge University Press. In it, Blessing demonstrates how workers from Anatolia, the Mediterranean, the Balkans, Iran and Central Asia participated in Ottoman construction projects. She argues that the innovative use of drawn, scalable models on paper as templates for architectural decoration supplemented collaborations. The book engages with sensory perception within buildings, where users were immersed in multi-sensory spaces that elicited wonder in aesthetic responses related to poetry. This research interest ties into Blessing’s ongoing work on intersection between textiles, architecture, and objects in the late medieval Iberian Peninsula, and the materiality of tiles in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Iran. 

Teaching interests

Blessing’s teaching interests include the multi-sensory experience of spaces and objects; medieval and early modern Islamic architecture; transcultural approaches to medieval art, the politics of urban space in the modern Middle East; heritage preservation and Islamic archaeology; and style as a tool of art historical investigation. 

Selected Publications

Rebuilding Anatolia after the Mongol Conquest: Islamic Architecture in the Lands of Rūm, 1240-1330, Birmingham Byzantine and Ottoman Studies 17 (Farnham, Surrey and Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishers, 2014). Translated into Turkish as Moğol Fethinden Sonra Anadolu’nun Yeniden İnşası: Rum Diyarında İslami Mimari, 1240-1330 (Istanbul: Koç University Press, 2018).

Patricia Blessing and Rachel Goshgarian, ed. Architecture and Landscape in Medieval Anatolia, 1100-1500 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017). 

“Blue-and-White Tiles of the Muradiye in Edirne: Architectural Decoration between Tabriz, Damascus, and Cairo,” Muqarnas 36 (2019).

“Weaving on the Wall: Architecture and Textiles in the Monastery of Las Huelgas in Burgos,” Studies in Iconography 40 (2019).

“The Vessel as Garden: The ‘Alhambra Vases’ and Sensory Perception in Nasrid Architecture,” in: Sensory Reflections: Traces of Experience in Medieval Artifacts, ed. Fiona Griffiths and Kathryn Starkey (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2018), 116-141.

“Seljuk Past and Timurid Present: Tile Decoration of the Yeşil Complex in Bursa, Turkey,” Gesta 56, no. 2 (Fall, 2017).

“From the Survey of Persian Art to the CIA: Donald N. Wilber and Ilkhanid Architecture in Iran,” in Historiography of Persian Architecture, ed. Mohammad Gharipour (New York and London: Routledge, 2016).

“Medieval Monuments from Empire to Nation-State: Beyond Armenian and Islamic Architecture in the South Caucasus (1180-1300),” The Medieval South Caucasus: Artistic Cultures of Albania, Armenia, and Georgia, ed. Ivan Foletti and Erik Thunø, Convivium: Exchanges and Interactions in the Arts of Medieval Europe, Byzantium, and the Mediterranean, Seminarium Kondakovianum (Supplementum 2016).

“Friedrich Sarre and the Discovery of Seljuk Anatolia,” Journal of Art Historiography 11 (December, 2014).