Aden Kumler studies and teaches the history of European medieval art and material culture.
Kumler’s first book, Translating Truth: Ambitious Images and Religious Knowledge in Late Medieval France and England (Yale University Press, 2011) was awarded a Medieval Academy of America Book Subvention and short-listed for the ACE/Mercer's International Book Award. She has published essays in the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Cabinet Magazine, RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, Studies in Iconology, Gesta, as well as in various edited volumes. She is an inaugural Co-editor, with Beate Fricke (Universität Bern), of the Viewpoints book series, published by the International Center for Medieval Art (ICMA) & Pennsylvania State University Press.
Kumler’s research interests and objects of study range widely but are anchored in a deep interest in how the material conditions of life shape possibilities for thought, imagination, and action. Committed to a rigorously interdisciplinary tradition of Europeanist medieval studies, in her scholarship and teaching Kumler aims to critically engage questions and problems fundamental to the history of art and culture, writ large.
Kumler is currently completing a book, tentatively titled The Multiplication of the Species: Medieval Economies of Form, Substance, and Accident, that examines the mutually entangled material forms and theorizations of coins, seals, and the eucharist over the course of the Middle Ages. She is also in the early stages of work on another book project that propositionally re-envisions the long history of medieval art and material culture in relation to medieval artistic and intellectual practices of abstraction. Recent and forthcoming essays treat topics including the material production of the sacred in the Middle Ages, the crafting of Middle English lyrics in the form of objects, early medieval and late medieval experiments with abstraction, as well as the little-known medieval origins of the modern waffle.
Professor Kumler earned her BA from the University of Chicago, an MA from the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto, a PhD in the History of Art & Architecture at Harvard University, and a Licentiate in Mediaeval Studies from the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto. She is a faculty member of the Department of Romance Languages & Literatures, an associate faculty member of the Divinity School, and an affiliate faculty member of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality and the Medieval Studies Program at the University of Chicago.
Kumler is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (2017-20). In recent years she has been an elected Councilor of the Medieval Academy of America (2015-18), a Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2014-15) and a Freiwillige Akademische Gesellschafts Fellow at the EIKONES Research Project at the University of Basel (2012-13). Her research and writing have been supported by a David E. Finley Pre-doctoral Fellowship from the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts and a Mellon Post-doctoral Fellowship from the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies.
Kumler's teaching has been recognized with both the University of Chicago's Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring and the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.