Pamela Patton

Director, The Index of Medieval Art
Office Phone
2C-5 Green Hall


Pamela Patton’s scholarship centers on the visual culture of medieval Spain and its environs, particularly the role of the image in articulating cultural identity and social dynamics among the multiethnic communities of the Iberian Peninsula. Central to her work is the exploration of medieval iconographic traditions as uniquely expressive of community ideologies, practices, and folkways critical to modern understanding of the medieval world. She has published two monographs: Pictorial Narrative in the Romanesque Cloister (Peter Lang, 2004) and Art of Estrangement: Redefining Jews in Reconquest Spain (Penn State University Press, 2012), the latter the winner of the 2014 Eleanor Tufts Book Award. Her edited volumes include Envisioning Others: Race, Color, and the Visual in Iberia and Latin America (Brill, 2016) and the co-edited Iconography Beyond the Crossroads: Image, Meaning, and Method in Medieval Art (Penn State University Press, 2022).

Before joining Princeton in 2015, Patton was professor and chair of art history at Southern Methodist University. She is a coeditor of Studies in Iconography, a field editor for Oxford Bibliographies in Art History, and a member of the Comité Asesor, Historia del Arte, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. Her scholarship has been supported by fellowships from the Kress Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Spanish Ministry of Culture.

Teaching Interests

Patton’s teaching interests include multiculturalism and the visual culture of the Iberian Peninsula, artistic exchange in the medieval Mediterranean, race and identity in the Middle Ages, and the nature of the medieval image.

Current Research

Patton’s current research follows two main strands: the intersections of color and race in the visual traditions of medieval Iberia and the tension between observation and invention in the manuscripts of King Alfonso X.


Ph.D., Boston University, 1994

Selected Publications

“Sign, Soma, Stereotype: Ways of Seeing Medieval Jews.” In El espejo perdido. La imagen del judío y el judaísmo en la España medieval (Museo Nacional del Prado, 10 Oct. 2023–14 Jan. 2024).

“What Did Medieval Slavery Look Like? Color, Race, and Unfreedom in Later Medieval Iberia,” Speculum 97, no. 3 (July 2022), 649–697.

“Beyond the Crossroads: Iconography and Its Evolutions.” In Iconography Beyond the Crossroads: Image, Meaning, and Method in Medieval Art (Signa: Papers of the Index of Medieval Art, 2). Coedited with Catherine A. Fernandez. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2022.

“Blackness, Whiteness, and the Idea of Race in Medieval European Art,” in Whose Middle Ages? Teachable Moments for an Ill-Used Past, ed. by Andrew Albin et al. New York: Fordham University Press, 2019, 154–165.

“An Ethiopian-Headed Serpent in the Cantigas de Santa María: Sin, Sex, and Color in Late Medieval Castile,” Gesta 55.2 (2016).

Art of Estrangement: Redefining Jews in Reconquest Spain (Penn State University Press, 2012).

“Constructing the Inimical Jew in the Cantigas de Santa María: Theophilus’s Magician in Text and Image,” in Beyond the Yellow Badge: Anti-Judaism and Antisemitism in Medieval and Early Modern Visual Culture, ed. Mitchell B. Merback (Brill, 2008).

“An Islamic Envelope-Flap Binding in the Cloister of Tudela: Another ‘Muslim Connection’ for Iberian Jews?” in Spanish Medieval Art: Recent Studies, ed. Colum Hourihane (Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Index of Christian Art, Princeton University, 2007).

Pictorial Narrative in the Romanesque Cloister: Cloister Imagery and Religious Life in Medieval Spain (Peter Lang, 2004).

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