History of the IAS

The idea for an Italian Art Society began in 1986 at the annual International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, MI when Anne Derbes (Hood College) and Julia Miller (California State University–Long Beach) organized two sessions on Italian art. The large and highly engaged audiences at their sessions suggested the need for a scholarly society dedicated to the subject.  Ellen Schiferl (University of Southern Maine) contacted the Medieval Institute at Kalamazoo about setting up a new affiliated society; she was the first “president” and gave the group its name. In 1987 Ellen organized the first IAS session at Kalamazoo; moderated by Julia Miller and including papers by John Paoletti (Wesleyan University) and Sharon Dale (Penn State Erie, The Behrend College), it focused on the Black Death. Sharon then took over as President and secretary; she began the newsletter in 1988 and a bibliography of member publications soon after. Sharon also helped to expand our presence at Kalamazoo, where we sponsor several sessions each year.

As it grew during those first years the Society enacted by-laws and became affiliated with the College Art Association. By the early 1990s, the IAS was sponsoring sessions at CAA; a decade later it also became an affiliated society of the Renaissance Society of America and the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference (SCSC). The 2000s also saw the inauguration of a Travel Grant program, joined by a  Research and Publication Grant program in 2013. The IAS launched a new website in 2010, which spurred a remarkable increase in membership; this same year brought the first IAS/Kress Lecture in Italy, an annual event intended to bring new North American scholarship to Italian audiences.  In 2011, the society’s twenty-fifth anniversary year, the IAS approved a new affiliation with the Society of Architectural Historians and established a Graduate Student & Emerging Scholars Committee, which helped to create lists of recently completed and in-progress dissertations on Italian topics as well as resources for research on Italian art.  2012 saw an expanded online presence for the society with pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Academia.edu, as well as monthly notes sent via email to active members. In October 2012, the membership passed an amendment to allow electronic voting to make our voting process more accessible to all members of the IAS rather than only those who can attend our annual business meetings at CAA and Kalamazoo. In 2013, the IAS expanded its sponsorship of conference sessions to the American Association of Italian Studies (AAIS) and inaugurated IASblog as a means to reach a wider, general-interest audience.

From humble beginnings at Kalamazoo, the IAS has now expanded to a group of several hundred members in the U.S. and abroad and is active in all areas of the history of Italian art. If you are a member, we thank you for your support. If you have not yet joined us, we hope you will become a member today!

List of Presidents:
Sarah Wilkins, 2021-2023
Mark Rosen, 2019-2021
Sean E. Roberts, 2017-2019
Sheryl E. Reiss, 2015-2017
Cathleen Fleck, 2013-2015
Kirstin Noreen 2011-2013
Jeryldene Wood 2009-2011
Shelley E. Zuraw 2007-2009
Roger Crum 2005-2007
Debra Pincus 2003-2005
David Wilkins 2001-2003
Bernadine Barnes 1999-2001
John Paoletti 1997-1999
Anita Moskowitz 1995-1997
Gary Radke 1993-1995
Diane Cole Ahl 1991-1993
Julia Miller 1989-1991
Sharon Dale 1988
Ellen Schiferl 1986-1988

Thanks to Julia Miller, Anne Derbes, Alison Perchuk, and Anne Leader for their assistance with this history.

Officers & Contacts