Harvard College Fellow
Steffani Bennett is a College Fellow in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University for the 2021-2022 academic year. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University in 2020. As a specialist in Japanese art history, Steffani wrote her dissertation on the medieval monk-painter Sesshū Tōyō (1420-ca. 1506) and his journey to Ming-dynasty China between 1467 and 1469. For her dissertation, Steffani spent three years abroad conducting fieldwork research. Two of those years were spent at Gakushūin University in Tokyo. During the third year she was affiliated with Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou. Her doctoral research was generously funded by fellowships from the Fulbright Institute of International Education, the Japan Foundation, and the Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies.
As the daughter of U.S. diplomats, Steffani was born and raised overseas in East and Southeast Asia. This formative experience inspired her interest in topics of cross-cultural relevance, particularly cultural interactions between pre-modern Japan and China. She is especially interested in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century painting in Japan and China, and the development of the landscape genre in medieval Japan. Currently, Steffani is preparing a book manuscript based upon her dissertation. This book will represent the first full-length study of the seminal Japanese painter Sesshū in the English language. Her prior publications include “The Politics of Prayer: Sesshū’s Thirty-three Kannon Paintings and Ming Dynasty Illustrated Guanyin Sutras” in the Japan-based journal Kokusai Tōhō gakusha kaiga kiyō (Transactions of the International Conference of Eastern Studies) and a scholarly encyclopedia entry for Sesshū in Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon (Artists of the World).
As a College Fellow, Steffani will be teaching two courses within the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at Harvard. Her course this fall is an introductory survey of Japanese art history. In the spring, she will teach a graduate seminar on Sesshū Tōyō and medieval Japanese ink-painting.