Thomas to serve as next head of Department of Art History

Headshot of Professor Robin Thomas wearing plan shirt and blue jacket
Penn State Department of Art History Associate Professor Robin Thomas

Robin L. Thomas, professor of art history and architecture, has been appointed head of the Department of Art History, effective July 1. He succeeds Elizabeth Mansfield, who will continue as a faculty member after five years as department head.

Thomas, a member of the Art History faculty since 2008, specializes in European architecture and urbanism from 1400 to 1800. Focusing on the architecture of Naples, his interests include early-modern urbanism, the social history of buildings, music and space, and the intellectual formation of the architect.

B. Stephen Carpenter II, Michael J. and Aimee Rusinko Kakos Dean in the College of Arts and Architecture, said Thomas' demonstrated record of success as a respected scholar, mentor and educator makes him a particularly impressive choice as the next leader of the department.

Robin will further the department's commitment to collaboration and to the highest standards in teaching and research, which are clearly evident in his own scholarship and his dedication to his students.” -B. Stephen Carpenter II

Thomas' research has resulted in the books Architecture and Statecraft: Charles of Bourbon's Naples 1734–59 (2013), which examines the remaking of Naples under King Charles of Bourbon, and Palaces of Reason: the Royal Residences of Enlightenment Naples (to be published fall 2023), which examines the palaces of Capodimonte, Portici and Caserta in light of 18th-century ideas of reform. His current book project is an architectural and urban history of cities in the age of the Enlightenment.

Other publications include more than a dozen articles on topics as diverse as maps, architects as readers and authors, and slavery and construction. His research has been supported by a Fulbright Fellowship, a Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation Fellowship in the Humanities, a fellowship at the Bill and Carol Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Emory University, and an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Thomas, who received the College of Arts and Architecture Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2014, said he appreciates this leadership opportunity.

β€œIt is a great honor to serve such exceptional colleagues and students in this role. I'm eager to build upon the Department of Art History's stellar reputation for research, teaching and collaboration, and want to thank Cassie Mansfield for her extraordinary leadership these past five years.”

Thomas holds a Ph.D., M.Phil. and M.A. from Columbia University and B.A. from Emory University.

Schools and Departments: Department of Art History