Current Graduate Students

For departmental alumni click here

Samuel Adams (ABD)
Rachel Amato
Nadya Bair (ABD)
Lauren Dodds
Ellen Dooley (ABD)
Sarah Goodrum (ABD)
Rika Hiro
Karen Huang (ABD)
Yoon Hwang
Megan Mastroianni (ABD)
Christopher Mcgeorge
Brendan McMahon (ABD)
Elizabeth Murphy
Ambra Spinelli (ABD)
Samuel Adams

Samuel advanced to PhD candidacy in August 2012. He works with Professor Megan Luke on German modernism and has written and spoken on topics including performance and installation art, photography, music, and aesthetics. After graduating from NYU he gained professional experience at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Getty Research Institute. His dissertation is a study of theatricality in postwar German art and is titled “Theatricalizing Pop Art and Fluxus: Politics and Aesthetics of the Theater Stage in Cold War Germany, 1951-1979.” His research is funded by the German Academic Exchange Program (DAAD), the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, USC's Hovel Memorial Scholarship, and USC’s Provost PhD Fellowship. He has shared his research at the Courtauld Institute of Art, the International Bauhaus Colloquium, the Association of Art Historians, the German Studies Association, and the Mellon School of Theater and Performance Research at Harvard University. In 2012 he was awarded the USC general education graduate teaching award. He has written a chapter on Wagnerian set design for the volume Representations of German Identity (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2013) and published exhibition reviews for and Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Criticism.

Rachel Amato

Rachel Amato is in her third year in the Art History Department at USC. Her research centers on fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italian art and visual culture. She is especially interested in questions about gendered bodily display and adornment, and the way these contributed to constructions of masculinity, particularly in the Republic of Venice. To this end, she has written about depictions of masculine fashion in Venetian portraiture and print. She is additionally interested in the photography of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italian sculpture and the way that documentary photographs shaped early-twentieth-century American scholarship on the Renaissance. She received her M.A. from USC in 2013. 

Nadya Bair
Nadya is beginning her fourth year as Provost Fellow in the Art History department, where she works on the history of photography and photojournalism. Her dissertation, tentatively titled "A World of Pictures: Magnum Photos and Postwar Photojournalism," examines how a group of cosmopolitan war photographers transitioned to documenting the globe in the immediate aftermath of World War II. Nadya's interests include the history of the photo book, artist and photographer networks in Europe and the United States, photo agencies, art practices during wartime, and the connection between Jews and photography. Research grants from USC's Visual Studies Research Institute and the Science, Technology, and Society Research Cluster have supported Nadya's research at the International Center for Photography, the Ransom Center, the Center for Creative Photography, the Magnum Foundation, and the UNESCO archives. In 2011, she worked on the exhibit "Through Soviet Jewish Eyes: Photography, War, and the Holocaust,"  which opened at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York in the fall of 2012. Nadya graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College in 2006, received her MA in Art History from USC in 2012 and advanced to candidacy in April 2013.
Lauren Dodds

Lauren Dodds is in her second year in the Art History department at USC. Her research focuses on the art and visual culture of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italy. She is specifically interested in the conventions of representation shaping portraiture during this period. In 2008, Dodds graduated summa cum laude from Pepperdine University with a B.A. in Art History and English literature. She received her M.A. in Art History from Southern Methodist University in 2011. Her master’s thesis, entitled “Portraiture as Metamorphosis: Reconsidering the Doni Portraits and their Verso Images,” focused on a set of portraits painted by Raphael with reverse images attributed to the anonymous Master of Serumido. In the summer of 2011, Dodds interned at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. She has also gained professional experience at the Dallas Museum of Art, Christie’s in Beverly Hills, the Frederick R. Weisman Museum in Malibu, and the Getty Museum.

Ellen Dooley
This is Ellen's sixth year in the Ph.D. program after graduating from Trinity University with a B.A. in Art History and Religion.  Ellen specializes in seventeenth-century Spanish painting and print, and her dissertation, "Painting Salvation: Affluence, Art, and Plague in Golden Age Seville," focuses on the relationships between the city's elite patrons and its community of artists.  The project evaluates the impacts of the 1649 plague, the circulation of art historical writing, and the social climate of Tridentine Spain on the roles of artists and the status of the objects they produced.  Other scholarly interests include Colonial Latin American art, trans-Atlantic exchanges, and the history of the Catholic Church.  She has written and presented her work on art patronage, festival books, and architecture at the Association for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies' annual conferences in Ottawa and Boston, the New College Medieval-Renaissance Conference, the Renaissance Conference of Southern California, University of Cambridge, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, and California State University, Los Angeles. She has received funding from the Del Amo Foundation, the Program for Cultural Cooperation between Spain's Ministry of Culture and United States' Universities, the Interdisciplinary Research Group of the Center for Religious and Civic Culture, the USC-Huntington EMSI, and the Borchard Foundation.
Sarah Goodrum
Sarah Goodrum advanced to PhD candidacy in October 2010. She is a Provost Fellow specializing in Twentieth-Century Central European Art and the History of Photography and Photojournalism. She has been Research Assistant to the Head of the Scholars Program at the Getty Research Institute (2009-2010) and Editorial Assistant for The Art Bulletin, edited by Professor Karen Lang (2010-2011). She has received grants for language study and research from DAAD, USC College, and the Conference Group for Central European History. Recent paper presentations include “Photographic Education as Public ‘Re-Education’: The Building of Socialist Society at the Leipzig Hochschule for Graphic and Book Arts” at the Annual Meeting of the History of Education Society (2011) and "Menschenfamilien and the Documentary Tradition: The Dual Influence of 'The Family of Man' in the GDR" at the 4. Tagung des Arbeitskreises Kunst in Der DDR, Berlin, Germany (2012). Sarah is currently conducting research for her dissertation, entitled "The Problem of the Missing Museum: Adventures and Misadventures in the Exhibition of Photographs in the GDR." In 2012-2013, she is based in Berlin, Germany with a Fulbright Research Grant. Before coming to USC, she graduated from Vassar College with a BA in English, and enjoyed an editorial career in trade and academic publishing before pursuing her MA in Art History at Vanderbilt University.
Rika Hiro
Rika Hiro is starting her 6th year in the Ph.D. program. Her primary interest is in post-WWII period art and visual culture in Japan, especially the Anti-Art movement in the 1960s and 1970s and its global exchanges. Before coming to USC, she worked as a research assistant at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Getty Research Institute and co-founded non-profit art space Art2102 of Los Angeles. She is a regular contributor to Japanese contemporary magazine Bijutsu Techô, and co-curated Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art: Experimentations in the Public Sphere in Postwar Japan 1950-1970 and Radical Communication: Japanese Video Art, 1968-1988 both at the GRI. She holds M.A. in Art History and Museum Studies from USC.
Karen Huang

Karen Huang advanced to doctoral candidacy in July 2013. A Provost PhD Fellow, Karen's general research interests include modern and contemporary American art; art as political intervention; the relationship between performance and documentation; and the history of print. Her dissertation explores how contemporary American artists employ reenactment as a method for engaging with politics of the Vietnam War era, and how those reenactments can produce, alter, and interrogate collective memory in America. Karen co-organized the 2012 USC symposium, "Art and the Mind: Neuroaesthetics, Phenomenology, and the Experience of Vision," and she has worked as a research assistant at the Getty Research Institute and the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Before coming to USC, Karen worked in the departments of Prints and Drawings and Medieval through Modern European Painting and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago. She was an exhibition researcher and catalogue contributor to Watercolors by Winslow Homer: The Color of Light (AIC, 2008), and she contributed research to Jose Guadalupe Posada and the Mexican Broadside (AIC, 2007). Karen earned her MA in Modern Art History, Theory, and Criticism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her BA in Art History and Spanish from Vanderbilt University.

Yoon Hwang

Yoonah Hwang is currently in her second year in Ph.D. program of Art History at USC. She received her B.A. degree in History from Yonsei University in 2007, and graduated from Seoul National University with a M.A. in Art History. Her primary field of interest is in the Buddhist art in China, particularly focusing on the artistic production and exchange along with Silk Road including the Dunhuang and Turfan regions during the ninth-tenth centuries. She also focuses on the rituals that take place inside the cave temple as well as the original context of objects found inside, including banner paintings. Hwang has gained professional experience at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the National Museum of Korea.

Megan Mastroianni

Megan advanced to doctoral candidacy in August 2012. A College Doctoral Fellow, she is in her fifth year in the PhD program. Her dissertation, “An Aesthetic of Imagination: The Documentation of American Land and Conceptual Art in Germany, 1968-1975,” explores various strategies employed in the documentation and dissemination of American art of the 1960s and 70s in West Germany, demonstrating the ways in which photography, video and installation were often at pains to keep alive the contingency of the original artistic intervention. Megan has been the recipient of language study, travel and research grants from DAAD and USC’s Dornsife. She co-organized the 2012 symposium, “Art and the Mind: Neuroaesthetics, Phenomenology and the Experience of Vision," and has presented her work at the German Studies Association (2012) and UCLA (2013). Prior to joining the PhD program at USC, Megan worked in the modern art department at LACMA, where she contributed to such projects as the 2008 reinstallation of the museum's collection of modern art and the 2009-10 exhibition, "Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Cultures." She was a contributor to the recent LACMA publication, Envisioning Modernism: The Janice and Henri Lazarof Collection (2012). Megan received her BA in Art History from USC in 2006.

Christopher Mcgeorge

Christopher McGeorge is in his second year as a Dornsife Doctoral Fellow in Art History. His research focuses on nineteenth-century British art and visual culture, Victorian engagements with the past, and reproductions of Victorian paintings. In 2010, McGeorge graduated from Lawrence University with a degree in Art History and English. He completed his MA in Art History at University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012, producing a thesis titled “Caravaggio and the Victorians: Contextualizing the Practice of Art History and Unraveling a 20th-Century Narrative of Rescue.” 

Brendan McMahon

Brendan is a fourth-year Provost fellow who advanced to doctoral candidacy in May, 2013.  He is currently at work on a dissertation project tentatively titled "Colors of Deceit: The Arts of Iridescence in Viceregal Mexico," which investigates the production of objects that make extensive use of iridescent natural materials such as hummingbird plumage and mother of pearl in colonial central Mexico.  Focusing on their vibrant materiality as opposed to their iconographical programs, the study contextualizes their reception within period debates surrounding the limitations of vision, the boundaries of artistic creation, and the mechanics of sight itself. This project grows out of larger research interests that include the relationships between art and science, fugitive color, the transregional circulation of objects and bodies in the early modern world, and the potential agency of matter.  He holds a BA in Art History and Hispanic Studies from Vassar College (2007; general and departmental honors, Phi Beta Kappa) and an MA from USC (2012), as well as professional experience as a museum educator at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Brooklyn Museum.  When not in the library, Brendan can often be found observing local bird-life with binoculars in hand.

Elizabeth Murphy
Elizabeth received her B.A. in Art History from Bard College in 2005. Her primary interest is in Contemporary Native American and Chicano art, with a focus on cross-cultural representations and appropriation. She has worked on traditional New Mexican "folkart", lowrider art, and other non-art art practices. Before starting at USC she was the co-founder and director of an alternative, collective art space (A.D. Collective) in Santa Fe, NM.
Ambra Spinelli

Ambra Spinelli is in her third year as a Ph.D. student in Art History at USC and she is undertaking a dissertation on the Roman ancient tablinum. In 2005, she received her BA in Classics from the Università di Bologna. Ambra has participated in several archaeological excavations and research projects involving Etruscan, Roman, and Medieval sites in Italy, such as Marzabotto, Bologna, Herculaneum, Pompeii, Acquaviva Picena, and Albinia. She attended SOMA 2007: XI International Symposium on Mediterranean Archaeology in Istanbul, with a published paper titled: "Underwater Archaeology in Italy: the Park of Baia (Naples)." Particularly noteworthy was her M.A. thesis in Archaeology in 2008 concerning the preparation of a Museum of Antiquities inside the Department of Archaeology, Università di Bologna. Ambra served as Antiquities Graduate Intern in 2009-2010 at the J. Paul Getty Villa, Los Angeles. She also collaborated with the J. Paul Getty Villa in the 2012 show "The Last Days of Pompeii," and she is currently serving as Research Assistant in the Antiquities Department at the J. Paul Getty Villa. Ambra has been working since 2011 as Assistant to the Director in the "PARP:PS - Pompeii Archaeological Research Project: Porta Stabia," led by the University of Cincinnati, and at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) in Seattle, she presented a poster titled "Disinterring a Pompeian Middle-Class Neighborhood" on her archival research and was awarded "Best Poster Award." Ambra presented her last research "The Getty Cybele: A Portrait of Feminine Virtues" at the 2014 AIA - Annual Meeting in Chicago and at the J. Paul Getty Villa.