Patrick R. Crowley is a historian of Roman art and visual culture. His research and publications focus on conceptual questions about media and mediality and the evidentiary status of the image in antiquity, exploring such topics as ancient theories of vision and representation, issues of materiality and facture, and the historical intersections between documentary photography and the production of knowledge in classical archaeology. The objects of his study range widely, but include Roman sarcophagi, portraiture, and decorative arts, especially in precious stone. His research has been supported by the Getty Research Institute, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation.
His first book, The Phantom Image: Seeing the Dead in Ancient Rome (The University of Chicago Press, Autumn 2019), investigates the ghost as an epistemic figure in Roman art and visual culture. Crowley is currently working on two new book projects. The first offers a media-theoretical perspective on one of the most captivating bodies of portrait art in the western tradition, beginning with a critical rethinking of the technical procedures of molding and casting as they pertain to the evidentiary status of the trace and important formal questions about style. The second explores the conceptual space between Roman art and jurisprudence, investigating such matters as theories of labor-value, aesthetic hierarchies of the applied arts, the issue of unfinish and its distinctions across media, and so on.