Anna Cohen (b. 1997) is a doctoral candidate in Art History at Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois). For the 2023-2024 academic year, she is conducting dissertation research as part of Illuminare with the support of the Fulbright Student Program. Anna graduated magna cum laude with her bachelor’s degree from Lawrence University in 2019 and received her master’s degree from Northwestern University in 2023, both in Art History. Her research interest focuses on the interactions between utilitarian art objects and decorative arts and the sensory experience of their human users and viewers.

Anna’s bachelor’s thesis, “Male Gaze or Male Graze? Considering the Tactile Nature of Rupert Carabin’s 1896 Furniture Set,” took a phenomenological, psycho-sexual approach to understanding the relationships between users’ bodies and the gendered politics of the carved, literally objectified female figures of Carabin’s furniture. In the study of Medieval art, she applied similar methodologies in her master’s qualifying paper, “Reactualizing Jewish Experience through the Hare Hunt Motif and its Reversals in the Girona Haggadah,” which interpreted the marginal decoration of the manuscript in the context of the rituals of Passover and the antisemitic realities of Jewish communities in the Kingdom of Aragon during the mid- and late-fourteenth century.

Her dissertation, “Monstrous Musical Manuscripts: the Grotesque, the Macabre, and Music Performance, 1475-1550,” further investigates human and object relationships by studying of grotesquely decorated minor initials executed by lay scribes in late fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century Flanders. Bridging the fields of art history, musicology, theology, and performance studies, this dissertation focuses on both the origin of such images and iconographies and their reception by abbatial communities. Further, this dissertation seeks to elucidate the impact of these images on religious observance and on the performance of the music and texts they ornament.