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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University May 12, 2008 | Vol. 37 No. 34
Hérica Valladares of Classics Department Wins Rome Prize

By Amy Lunday

Hérica Valladares, an assistant professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Krieger School's Department of Classics, is one of 30 emerging artists and scholars to win a Rome Prize in the American Academy in Rome's 112th annual competition.

Specifically, Valladares won the National Endowment for the Humanities/Andrew Heiskell Post- Doctoral Rome Prize. She will be awarded a stipend and room and board to study at the American Academy for 11 months starting in September.

During her stay, Valladares will finish researching and writing her first monograph, On Tenderness: The Semantics of Love in Roman Painting and Poetry. Her book will analyze the depiction of human and mythological lovers in the art and literature of the early Roman empire (ca. 30s B.C.E.- 60s C.E.). In Roman amatory representations, tenderness is both a subject and a mode that inflects images and texts, turning sex into romance. By situating the development of a Roman discourse on love in a broader historical context, she will offer new insights into individual poems and paintings and on a much-overlooked facet of imperial culture.

The American Academy in Rome is an ideal environment for completing the manuscript, Valladares says. The academy's library, with its strong holdings in classics, archaeology and art history, is considered excellent for the kind of interdisciplinary research she will pursue. Moreover, proximity to the museums and sites with frescoes relevant to her project will allow her to refine her ideas about their meaning, their relationship to poetry and their effect on viewers. A fellowship at the academy will also offer her the experience of carrying out her work among a close-knit community of scholars and artists.

Valladares earned her doctorate in classical studies from Columbia University, joining the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2005. She is especially interested in Roman art and archaeology, Latin poetry, Ovid in the Renaissance and the reception of antiquity during the 18th century. A Romanist, Valladares takes an interdisciplinary approach to her study of antiquity. Drawing from her training as a classicist and an art historian, her study emphasizes a common metaphorical language between literary and visual forms of depiction.

Valladares is the author of "The Lover as a Model Viewer: Gendered Dynamics in Propertius 1.3" in Gendered Dynamics in Latin Love Poetry (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005) and "Four Women from Stabiae: Enlightenment Aesthetics and the History of Roman Painting" in Antiquity Recovered: The Legacy of Pompeii and Herculaneum (Getty Publications, 2007).

The Rome Prize is awarded annually through an open competition that is juried by leading artists and scholars in the fellowship fields. Established in 1894 and chartered by an Act of Congress in 1905, the American Academy in Rome is a center that sustains independent artistic pursuits and humanistic studies. It is situated on the Janiculum, the highest hill within the walls of Rome.

Robert Saarnio, curator of university collections, received the Rome Prize in 2005.


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