Adam S. Cohen

Associate Professor
Sidney Smith Hall, Room 6056, Toronto, ON M5S 3G3


Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

  • Medieval Art
  • Jewish Art


I am fascinated by the tension medieval art presents as something that is both alien and yet deeply connected to the motives and concerns of people today. In my research and teaching, I try to uncover how and why people in the Middle Ages invested considerable resources in the production of art, and how that art provided a unique means of linking abstract theory (theological or philosophical) and daily practice (religious or secular). I find illuminated manuscripts a particularly fruitful area for such investigations, especially for monastic communities and audiences, and I confess that I still get a remarkable charge whenever I have the privilege of holding a medieval book much as its original users did. As a teacher, I encourage my students to find their own voices but always to listen to the messages being communicated by their materials. The project that is currently occupying my attention is a new introductory survey of medieval art and architecture, written with Jill Caskey and Linda Safran; this work is informed by recent methodological shifts in the field and expands on traditional considerations of the subject by investigating on equal terms the art from Scandinavia to the Sahara, Spain to Samarkand.

Selected Publications

  • Signs and Wonders: 100 Haggadah Masterpieces (Jerusalem: Toby Press, 2018)
  • Art and Architecture of the Middle Ages, with Jill Caskey and Linda Safran (Ithaca, Cornell University Press, forthcoming)
  • The Visualization of Knowledge in the Medieval and Early Modern Period, ed. with Marcia Kupfer, Yossi J.H. Chajes (Turnhout: Brepols, forthcoming)
  • Editor, Gesta (the journal of the International Center of Medieval Art), 2013–18

Cohen Confronting Borders of Medieval Art; The Uta Codex; Eye and Mind


PhD, The Johns Hopkins University, 1995