Luke Fidler

Assistant Professor of Art History
Luke Fidler
Email Office THH 355-E


Luke A. Fidler is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Southern California. He specializes in the art of early- and high-medieval Europe, with an emphasis on the German-speaking lands, Scandinavia, and the British Isles. His first book project presents the conceptual framework of “coercive form” to describe how ambitious experiments in twelfth-century sculpture accompanied and extended novel modes of political subjugation in, and along the northern edges of, the Holy Roman Empire.


He is at work on two additional research projects: an examination of how abolitionist approaches to history can reconfigure accounts of premodern aesthetic production, and a book about the Arctic art world (ca. 800-1300 CE) that traces interconnected practices of figuration circulating among the Norse, Sámi, Kalaallit, and Tuniit. Additional projects include studies of Pictish carving, medieval theories of resemblance, and the deployment of epistolary structures in contemporary abolitionist art. These research questions are shaped by an ongoing engagement with the traditions of critical theory and Black feminist thought.


Fidler’s scholarly publications have appeared in Eolas, postmedieval, and Radical History Review. He has also contributed criticism to a variety of venues, including The Atlantic, The Brooklyn Rail, and The Georgia Review. Among the grants and funding bodies that have supported his research, he served most recently as Paul Mellon Predoctoral Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. from 2019-2022. Motivated by a long-standing commitment to emancipatory pedagogy, he has taught art history with the Odyssey Project in Chicago and as a member of the Prison+Neighborhood Arts/Education Project.


At USC, he has taught classes on the politics of landscape; labor, luxury, and abstraction in pre-modern art; and the work of medieval sculpture. Before joining the Department of Art History in 2023, Fidler worked as a curator of contemporary art at the Institute of the Arts and Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he also managed the Visualizing Abolition public scholarship initiative designed to shift the social attachment to prisons by exploring activist modes of artistic making and display.


  • Ph.D. Art History, University of Chicago, 2022
  • M.A. Art History, University of Chicago, 2016
  • B.A. Art History, Northwestern University, 2014
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    medieval European art, ca. 400-1400 CE; theories and practices of sculpture; premodern Arctic visual culture; prison abolition; art historical method; the relation of aesthetics to ideology; form and formalism; racial capitalism and its opponents.

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