Leonard Barkan is the Class of 1943 University Professor at Princeton, where he teaches in the Department of Comparative Literature along with appointments in the Departments of Art and Archaeology, English, and Classics.
He has been a professor of English and of Art History at universities including Northwestern, Michigan, and N.Y.U. Among his books are The Gods Made Flesh: Metamorphosis and the Pursuit of Paganism (Yale, 1986) and Unearthing the Past: Archaeology and Aesthetics in the Making of Renaissance Culture (Yale, 1999), which won prizes from the Modern Language Association, the College Art Association, the American Comparative Literature Association, Architectural Digest, and Phi Beta Kappa.
He is the winner of the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has been an actor and a director; he is also a regular contributor to publications in both the U.S. and Italy on the subject of food and wine. He is the author of Satyr Square (Farrar, Straus, 2006; pbk Northwestern, 2008), which is an account of art, literature, food, wine, Italy, and himself. In recent years, he has published Michelangelo: A Life on Paper (Princeton, 2010), which treats the artist’s creative and inner life by considering his constant habit of writing words on his drawings, and Mute Poetry, Speaking Pictures (Princeton, 2012), an essay about the intersecting worlds of artists and writers from Plato and Praxiteles to Shakespeare and Rembrandt.
During 2014-15 he was the Rudolf Arnheim Gastprofessur at the Institut für Kunst und Bildgeschichte at the Humboldt University, and he spent a month as a Visiting Professor at Harvard’s I Tatti Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. During the sabbatical year he completed Berlin for Jews: A Twenty-First Century Companion, which will be published by the University of Chicago Press in 2016. Having delivered the Thomas Spencer Jerome Lectures at the University of Michigan and the American Academy in Rome in 2011 on the subject of food culture and high culture from antiquity to the Renaissance, he is now completing a book-length version of that subject to be entitled Reading for the Food: Art, Literature, and the Hungry Eye.
Prof. Barkan is interested in working with graduate students whose work overlaps with his own, including Early Modern Literature and Art History; Heritage of Antiquity, Theory and Practice in the Interdisciplinary Study of Culture.