Lisa M. Rafanelli

Lisa M. Rafanelli

Professor of Visual Studies and Art History, Art History

Brownson Hall, Room 214
Wednesdays 10:30-1:30, or by appointment.
(914) 323-7182

About Me

Lisa M. Rafanelli is a professor of Italian Renaissance art history. She joined the Department of Visual Studies and Art History in 2004, after completing her dissertation The Ambiguity of Touch: Saint Mary Magdalene and the ‘Noli Me Tangere’ in Early Modern Italy at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. She teaches a wide range of courses, from a newly designed introductory level course, “Learning to Look,” to courses on Medieval art and architecture, art in Italy during the Early and High Renaissance, Northern Renaissance art, and Baroque art and architecture. Her advanced seminars cover the life and work of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Women Artists of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque. Prof. Rafanelli also regularly teaches as part of the First Year Program and the Castle Scholars Honors Program. Her most recent honors seminar, “Saints and Sinners: The Renaissance Papacy,” offers an in-depth, interdisciplinary look at the institution of the papacy during the 14-16th century. She also regularly co-leads the department’s Spring Break study tours to Italy, taking students to Florence, Venice and Rome in alternating years. Prof. Rafanelli’s research interests include the depiction of Saint Mary Magdalene in early modern Italian art, the relationship of early modern feminist theory to the visual arts, the thematization of the senses in 16th century European art, and the reception of the European Renaissance in modern American culture. She has published in a wide variety of peer-reviewed journals and edited anthologies, and is a regular speaker at national and international conferences. Her first monograph, co-authored with Dr. Erin Benay, Faith, Gender and the Senses in Italian Renaissance and Baroque Art. Interpreting the Noli me tangere and Doubting Thomas was published with Ashgate in 2015. She is currently working on her second monograph, Michelangelo’s Vatican Pietà and its Afterlives (anticipated 2021).

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Ph.D., New York University Institute of Fine Arts
J.D., Columbia University Law School
Master of Arts, New York University Institute of Fine Arts
Bachelor of Arts (magna cum laude), Queens College, CUNY
Feature Publications


Michelangelo’s Vatican Pietà: From Imitazione to Musealization in Souls of Stone. Funerary Sculpture, from Creation to Musealization (Lisbon, 2019)


Co-Author, with Erin Benay
Faith, Gender and the Senses in Italian Renaissance and Baroque Art

Ashgate, 2015; re-issued in paperback, Routledge, 2017

Edited Volume

Co-editor with Erin Benay
Touch me, touch me not: senses, faith and performativity in early modernity

Open Arts Journal Volume 4 (Special Issue, Winter 2014-5)



To Touch or Not to Touch? The Noli Me Tangere and Incredulity of Thomas in Word and Image from Early Christianity to the Ottonian period in To Touch or Not to Touch? Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Noli Me Tangere (Leuven, 2013)



Thematizing Vision in the Renaissance: The Noli Me Tangere as a Metaphor for Art Making
Awards & Grants

Manhattanville College Research Grants, 2014, 2012

Samuel F. B. Morse Fellow, Institute of Fine Arts, 1997-1998, 2000–2001

NYU Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Travel Fellowships, 1996, 2000

Columbia University Law School, Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, 1989-1992

Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, 1987-1989

Shelby and Leon Levy Travel Fellowship (NYU), 1988

Phi Beta Kappa, 1986 (Sigma Chapter)