LU Department of Art and Design hosts virtual guest lecture

Lamar University’s Department of Art & Design is proud to present “The Real Housewives of Ancient Etruria” at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 31. Hosted by Bridget Sandhoff, Ph.D., associate professor of art history at the University of Nebraska Omaha, this virtual event held via Zoom offers attendees an inside look into Etruria — a civilization that flourished on the Italian peninsula prior to the Romans.

Ancient Etruria is often noted for the prominent role that women played within its society. Early researchers initially declared it matriarchal, but this belief was quickly disproven. Despite their traditional positions as wives and mothers, Etruscan women wielded their power and status precisely because of these feminine duties. This lecture investigates the visual evidence of the privileged status of Etruscan women and how these representations often defy orthodox female bodily norms. 

According to Julie Fischer, Ph.D., associate professor of art history at Lamar University, the Etruscans are a unique topic that many students would not otherwise have the opportunity to learn about.

“While Lamar does not have a classics department (which would teach Latin and Greek and other topics of classical antiquity), I do regularly teach an ancient art class that focuses on Greek and Roman art,” Fischer said. “Also, every semester, I teach an art history survey course that cover the prehistoric era through the Middle Ages and because Greek and Roman art is my specialty, we always spend a lot of time discussing these two cultures.”

The associate professor explained that the Etruscan civilization is often overlooked in favor of Greek and Roman architecture.

“The Etruscans are known for their tombs. They painted the walls with bright, vivid scenes of dancing and banqueting. They also filled the tombs with terracotta sarcophagi and objects like bronze mirrors and imported Greek vases,” Fischer said, noting that Sandhoff studies the images of women that are on the Etruscan engraved mirrors and will likely have examples to share in her lecture.

Renowned in her field, Sandhoff is a specialist in Etruscan art, especially issues of gender in the Etruscan world.

“I have known Bridget Sandhoff for years and she is a renowned expert in Etruscan art. But because she teaches at the University of Nebraska in Omaha, I haven’t been able to invite her to speak since it’s so far away. But with a virtual talk, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to have Dr. Sandhoff give a talk,” Fischer said. “(Attendees) will get to learn from an expert in Etruscan art and gain knowledge about this mysterious civilization, hopefully deepening their overall understanding of art history."

The Department of Art & Design has hosted its Art History Guest Lecture Series for several years, usually held in the fall and spring semester. While the lectures were typically in-person events, they have shifted to a virtual platform after COVID-19.

“Having virtual lectures has allowed us to invite scholars from further afield, so it has been a good opportunity to have a wide variety of topics and specialties,” Fischer said.

To attend “The Real Housewives of Ancient Etruria” guest lecture, visit