Maggie Popkin Wins International Prize to Advance Research

Maggie Popkin, Robson Junior Professor and associate professor in the Department of Art History and Art, has won a 2020–21 Rome Prize. These highly competitive fellowships support advanced independent work and research in the arts and humanities. Popkin is the first faculty member from Case Western Reserve University to win the Rome Prize.

professor with wavy, shoulder-length hair is wearing black top

Maggie Popkin, Robson Junior Professor and associate professor in the Department of Art History and Art

Popkin won the Andrew Heiskell Rome Prize for her project, Souvenirs and the Experience of Empire in Ancient Rome.” She is investigating souvenirs from the Roman Empire commemorating places, people and events that straddled spheres of religion, spectacle, leisure and politics. 

She will receive a stipend, workspace and room and board for five months, beginning January 2021, at the American Academy in Rome’s eleven-acre campus.

Popkin calls this honor a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live and work in Rome as part of a vibrant community of scholars, artists, writers and architects.

“The Rome Prize will give me the time to complete my book on ancient Roman souvenirs and their relation to how people experienced empire in antiquity,” Popkin said.

“It will enable me to explore Italian collections and archaeological sites that are critical to my work. The Rome Prize will afford me the opportunity to engage in the wide-ranging, interdisciplinary back and forth with my co-fellows that not only will make my current project the best it can be but will also suggest exciting avenues for future research. I have no doubt that it will be a transformational experience for me as a scholar.”

Popkin’s book is “nothing short of brilliant,” said Elizabeth Bolman, Elsie B. Smith Professor in the Liberal Arts, professor of art history and chair, Department of Art History and Art. “It is a supremely original concept, and provides a fascinating glimpse of a part of the Roman world which is typically inaccessible to art historians: everyday people and athletic events. The Rome Prize is the highest honor in her field. We are fortunate to have Professor Popkin at CWRU, and look forward to reading her second book.”

Popkin specializes in ancient Roman art and architecture. Her research interests include the relationship between architecture, spectacle and ritual in the Roman world and the impact of visual culture on individual and social remembering in the classical world.

Rome Prize winners are selected annually by independent juries of distinguished artists and scholars through a national competition. This year, the 22 Rome Prize winners were selected from more than 1,000 applicants.