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Michael Cothren

Scheuer Family Chair Emeritus of Humanities

Emeritus Art


  2. Phone: (610) 328-8118
  3. Beardsley Hall 204
Michael Cothren


B.A., Vanderbilt University, 1973
M.A., (1974) and Ph.D. (1980), Columbia University

Areas of Specialization

Gothic Art and Architecture
Ancient Painted Pottery of Native North America


Biographical Statement

Professor Cothren taught art history at Swarthmore for 39 years (1978-2017), offering classes and seminars in The Western Tradition; Roman, Medieval, Islamic, and Native American Art and Architecture; and the theory and methods of art historical interpretation. He remains consultative curator of medieval stained glass at the Glencairn Museum (Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania), and since 2007 he has been the lead author of a series of textbooks used in teaching art history survey courses, originally written by Marilyn Stokstad (1929-2016). His research area was originally French Gothic stained glass, especially the glazing programs of the abbey of Saint-Denis and the cathedrals of Beauvais and Rouen. His book on the 13th- and 14th-century windows of Beauvais was published in 2006 by Princeton University Press, and he is currently writing the Corpus Vitrearum catalogue of medieval stained glass in the Glencairn Museum. His current research project focuses on a new area of interest: the early Native-American artists of the Mimbres culture who painted the interiors of bowls (c. 1000-1150 CE). 

Selected Publications

Art History (7th edition). Co-author with Marilyn Stokstad.  Pearson, 2019.

Art: A Brief History (6th edition). Co-author with Marilyn Stokstad. Pearson, 2016.

Picturing the Celestial City: The Medieval Stained Glass of Beauvais Cathedral. Princeton University Press, 2006.

“The Iconography of Light,” with Sharon E. J. Gerstel.  In The Routledge Companion to Medieval Iconography, ed. Colum Hourihane (London, 2017), 465-478.

“The Pitcairn Flight into Egypt.” Glencairn Museum News, January 2016. To read more information on this publication please visit the Glencairn Museum at the the following website:

“Joseph’s Dream in the Thomson Collection: Reconsidering the Reconstruction of the Infancy of Christ Window from Suger’s Saint-Denis.” In Arts of the Medieval Cathedrals: Studies on Architecture, Stained Glass and Sculpture in Honor of Anne Prache (Ashgate, 2015), 107-119.

"Some Personal Reflections on American Modern and Postmodern Historiographies of Gothic Stained Glass."  In From Minor to Major: The Minor Arts and Their Status in Medieval Art History (Princeton Index of Christian Art and Penn State University Press, 2012), 255-270.

"Holding Hands in the Virgin Chapel at Beauvais Cathedral."  In The Four Modes of Seeing: Approaches to Medieval Imagery in Honor of Madeline Harrison Caviness, ed.  Evelyn Staudinger Lane, et al. (Ashgate, 2009), 30-43.

"Le vitrage de la chapelle Saint-Vincent de la cathédrale de Beauvais: un chef-d'ouvre méconnu de la peinture française vers la fin du XIIIe siécle." 1300...l'Art au temps de Philippe le Bel, ed. Danielle Gaborit-Chopin and François Avril. XVIes Rencontre de l'Ecole du Louvre (Paris, 2001), 119-135.

"Why did Louis de Roncherolles Commission a Stained Glass Window for the Cathedral of Beaufais in 1522?" Art Bulletin 83 (March 2001):7-31

"Production Practices in Medieval Stained Glass Workshops: Evidence in the Glencairn Museum." Journal of Glass Studies 41 (1999): 117-134.

"Fragments of an Early Thirteenth-Century St. Peter Window from the Cathedral of Rouen." Gesta 37/2 (1998): 158-164.

 "Restaurateurs et créateurs de vitraux à la cathédrale de Beauvais dans les années 1340." Revue de l'art 111 (1996): 11-24.

 "Replacing the Survey at Swarthmore." Art Journal 54/3 (1995): 58-62.

“Suger’s Stained Glass Masters and Their Workshop at Saint-Denis.”  Paris: Center of Artistic Enlightenment. Papers in Art History from The Pennsylvania State University, Volume IV (1988): 46-75.

“The Seven Sleepers and the Seven Kneelers: Prolegomena to a Study of the ‘Belles Verrières’ of Rouen Cathedral.”  Gesta 25 (1986): 203-226.

“The Infancy of Christ Window from the Abbey of St.-Denis: A Reconsideration of Its Design and Iconography.”  The Art Bulletin 68 (1986): 398-420.

“The Iconography of Theophilus Windows in the First Half of the Thirteenth Century.”  Speculum 59 (1984): 308-338.



Michael Cothren: Teaching Art in an Era of Globalism

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