profile-picKaren-edis Barzman

Associate Professor

Office: Fine Arts 220B
Phone: (607) 777-2009
Specialization: Early modern Italian studies (1250-1750); early modern visual and material culture; representation and early modern discourses on identity and difference; semiotics, psychoanalysis, and continental philosophy; feminist theory, gender studies, and feminist histories of art. Other areas of interest include the history of cartography, institutions of art, art education, and criticism; art, religion, and the state in the early modern world.

Karen-edis Barzman is Associate Professor of Art History at Binghamton University. Trained as an early modern Italianist with an emphasis on visual culture, Karen has developed a set of critical concerns informed by an ongoing engagement with semiotics, psychoanalytic theory, and continental philosophy. Much of her work has addressed the way subjects are caught in fields of visual and material culture by the performative aspects of the self that exceed the linguistic. More recently this work on identity-formation has taken a spatial and self-consciously phenomenological turn. Books-in-progress (The Limits of Identity: Venice, Dalmatia, and the Representation of Difference, and Cartography and the Paper Management of the Early Modern State) look respectively at borderlands as thresholds of difference and the rise of mapping in the information technologies of trans-regional states, with their growing dependence on collecting, archiving, and delivering data newly encoded in pictures as well as written form.

Director of Binghamton University's interdisciplinary Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (CEMERS) from 2006 to 2011, Karen has more recently turned her attention to professional activities off-campus. She is currently a Discipline Representative for Art History and Architecture at the Renaissance Society of America, where she also serves on the editorial board of the Society's journal, Renaissance Quarterly.

Karen was recently awarded seed money for a trans-disciplinary research project that draws together scholars from several continents working on the role of visual representation in the management of the early modern state, with a particular focus on borderlands. Those interested in the project (see the summary below) are invited to contact Karen via email (, using "Borders" in the subject line.

Visual and Material Negotiations Around Borders –
A Case Study of Sovereignty and Provincial Identity at the Edges of Imperial Rule.

This project brings together scholars in Art History, History, Sociology, and Geography to work on early modern maps, topographic drawings, and documents in state archives in Turkey and Europe. Their collaborative efforts will address 1) how empires negotiated the limits of sovereignty along shared borders, and 2) how subject-populations at the edges of empire negotiated identity. Given the research interests of current participants, the project will focus initially on the Ottoman Empire and borders it shared with the territorial state of Venice in present-day Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Montenegro, 16th–18th centuries. The purpose is to place visual representation into the larger context of the imperial archive and to draw on that archive to reconstruct the shared space of borderlands in their material form (town, fortress, settlement, hinterland). Foregrounding the material and the visual as important objects of interrogation, the focus then is on 1) the role of images in the management of the imperial state, and 2) the object-world and spatial practices of a lost frontier.

Recent Courses Taught

Undergraduate Courses
Introduction to Art (100-level)
Renaissance and Baroque (200-level)
Women and the Renaissance (200-level)
Drama of the Baroque (300-level)
Religion and Images Across the Early Modern World (300-level)
Theory and Methods (400-level)

Undergraduate/Graduate Seminars
Early Orientalizing
Feminist Theory, Psychoanalysis, and Semiotics: A Critical History
Gender and Performativity
The Monstrous Baroque
Representing Borders/Picturing Frontiers
Spectacle and Public Performance
Space and Time in the Early Modern City

Graduate Seminars
Gunpowder and Publicity: Arts of War in the Early Modern State
Venezia veduta, Venezia vissuta: Representations of Venice and Everyday Life in the City


Last Updated: 10/7/16