Curran, Kathleen 1955- (Kathleen A. Curran)

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Curran, Kathleen 1955- (Kathleen A. Curran)


Born 1955. Education: Newcomb College of Tulane University, B.A., 1977; New York University, M.A., 1981; University of Delaware, Ph.D., 1986.


Office—Trinity College, 300 Summit St., Hartford, CT 06106. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer, educator, and art historian. Trinity College, Hartford, CT, professor of fine arts, 1990—.


National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for College Teachers, 1994; Arthur H. Hughes Award for Teaching Achievement, Trinity College, 1997; Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts Publication Grant, 2003, for The Romanesque Revival: Religion, Politics, and Transnational Exchange; Henry-Russell Hitchcock National Book Award, Victorian Society in America, 2005, for The Romanesque Revival.


The Romanesque Revival: Religion, Politics, and Transnational Exchange, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 2003.

Contributor to periodicals, including Art Bulletin.


Kathleen Curran is a writer, educator, and art historian. A professor of fine arts at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, she specializes in architectural history. Her additional interests include topics such as American, European, and German architecture; the history of museums; Medievalism; decorative arts; design history of the city; and general cultural history. Curran "believes in the importance of understanding the built environment: buildings, cities, and landscapes," noted a biographer on the Trinity College Web site. Curran teaches a wide range of courses on art history and architecture, with offerings on topics such as the history of Western art, the architectural and social history of city suburbs; the concept of the city as a built environment; historical methods for studying and analyzing art; and architecture from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present day. Among her other duties, Curran serves as Trinity College's architecture advisor, assisting students at the beginning of their studies and later when they embark on their professional careers.

In The Romanesque Revival: Religion, Politics, and Transnational Exchange, Curran examines the origins and influence of the nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival, in which interest was renewed in the style of round-arched architecture popular in the twelfth century. She considers this resurgence of attention to Romanesque architecture in contrast to the better-known Gothic Revival of the period, and how the Romanesque Revival has consistently been considered in lesser terms. This was due, in part, to the Gothic Revival having more vocal supporters. "The Gothic Revival was strongly literary in character and boasted such gifted writers as John Ruskin and William Morris, who ensured that its ideas remained in circulation long after its quaint buildings were mocked and mutilated," observed Michael J. Lewis in the Sacred Architecture Journal. The Romanesque Revival, Lewis noted, originated in "German historiography and theology," and was championed by German architect Heinrich Hübsch, who advocated a round-arched style of architecture known as Rundbogenstil. "The richly detailed account of the Romanesque revival in Germany takes up half Kathleen Curran's book. It is a subject that has occupied her for many years and her knowledge of the subject is unparalleled. What makes her work particularly valuable is the way in which she links architectural style to prevailing political, economic, and cultural conditions," commented J.B. Bullen, writing in Art Book.

In her book, Curran "shows how swiftly architectural ideas ricocheted between England and Germany during this period," Lewis reported. "Curran's accomplishment is to draw out the complex network of international connections that carried Rundbogenstil doctrines and designs beyond Germany" and fueled the transnational nature of the Romanesque Revival, Lewis stated. She also looks at how the Romanesque Revival came to America, transported via the ideas of Bavarian crown prince Friedrich Wilhelm IV and his influential aide, Baron Christian C.J. von Bunsen. Curran "shows that Bunsen's influence extended to America, where he had many friends and followers amongst the large population of German immigrants. It is this American section which is perhaps the most original and most impressive in this book," Bullen remarked. "In tracing the development of the Romanesque revival, Kathleen Curran has first of all made an important contribution simply by making clear how far that revival was a distinct international movement," noted Church History reviewer Richard Kieckhefer. "Her second significant accomplishment," Kieckhefer continued, "is to show with considerable nuance the cultural implications of this movement."

Bullen concluded that "Curran's book is a fine achievement. It contains original material on almost every page and Curran reinterprets some of the well-known themes in fresh terms. The text reads like the fruit of a lifetime's scholarly experience, yet is clear and thoroughly engrossing. The Romanesque Revival is well documented, beautifully illustrated, and contains with a wide range of previously unpublished plans, drawings and photographs." William Hollingsworth Whyte, writing in the Journal of Ecclesiastical Studies, commented, "This is a splendidly-researched, engaging account, which fills a real gap in the literature and will be of genuine value to anyone interested in nineteenth-century architecture." Lewis called The Romanesque Revival "absolutely indispensable for any scholar of nineteenth-century architecture."



Art Book, June, 2004, J.B. Bullen, "A Nineteenth-Century Revival: Romanesque Revisited," review of The Romanesque Revival: Religion, Politics, and Transnational Exchange, p. 9.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, January, 2004, T.J. McCormick, review of The Romanesque Revival, p. 899.

Church History, March, 2006, Richard Kieckhefer, review of The Romanesque Revival, p. 236.

Journal of Ecclesiastical History, January, 2005, William Hollingsworth Whyte, review of The Romanesque Revival, p. 186.

Sacred Architecture Journal, fall-winter, 2004, Michael J. Lewis, "In What Style Should We Build?," review of The Romanesque Revival.

Winterthur Portfolio, spring, 2004, Jeanne Halgren Kilde, review of The Romanesque Revival, p. 84.


Trinity College Web site, (May 22, 2008), faculty profile.

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