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Gretchen McKay
  • Professor of History & Art History

History & Art History
Gretchen McKay

Teaching Art History is my true joy and I’ve been doing so at McDaniel since 2001. I am always seeking new ways to engage students in various art historical topics, emphasizing visual analysis as an important skill. I want my students to leave my classes knowing that they can go to any museum or look at any advertisement and visually analyze what is being “said.

I am also excited to be adding to courses for a planned Public History Minor, which will examine issues surrounding how we commemorate and memorialize the past. This includes investigating how museums, galleries, and history centers among others educate and present the past to the public.

As part of my work to engage students I use the “Reacting to the Past” role-playing game approach where students take on a character from history, read primary texts from a particular period, and debate important issues.

I have written and published the first Art History Reacting game, Modernism vs. Traditionalism: Art in Paris, 1888-89. I received my B.A. in Art from Colby College, where I painted and studied Art History, and graduated with M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Virginia. I was awarded the Ira G. Zepp Distinguished Teaching Award and am the faculty mentor to the Green Terror Football Team. For the academic years 19-20 and 20-21, I have been selected as a Charles A. Boehlke, Jr. Engaged Faculty Fellow.


Ph.D. in History of Art, University of Virginia
M.A. in History of Art, University of Virginia
B.A. in Art, Colby College

Research Interests

  • Student-athlete experience at the NCAA Division III level

  • Medieval Art History

Recent Courses

  • AHY 2209: Ancient Roman Art and Architecture

  • AHY 2239: Romanticism and Impressionism

  • AHY 1114: History of Western Art II

Selected Publications

  • Modernism vs. Traditionalism: Art in Paris. 1888-89, Co-authored with Nicolas W. Proctor and Michael A. Marlais, University of North Carolina Press for the Reacting Consortium Press, 2018.

  • Engaging the non-Art History Student: A Tale of Five Football Players (and others) in Roman Art. In Active Learning Strategies in Higher Education: Teaching for Leadership, Innovation and Creativity, Anastasia Misseyanni, Militiades D. Lytras, Paraskevi Papadopoulou, eds. Emerald Publishing Limited, 2018, pp. 187-209.

  • Flipping the Risk-Reward Associated with Flipped Classrooms. Co-authored with Sara Raley, in Risk-Taking in Higher Education: The Importance of Negotiating Intellectual Challenge in the Classroom, Rylan Kelty and Bridget A. Bunten, eds., Rowman and Littlefield, 2017, pp. 3-18.

  • Professional Development as a Way Forward for Undergraduate Research in the Humanities. Transformative Dialogues: Teaching & Learning Journal 10.3 (2017).

  • An Eastern Medieval Revival: Byzantine Art and Nineteenth-Century French Painting. Studies in Medievalism 16 (2008): 46-66.

Clubs and community involvement

  • Faculty Mentor to the Green Terror Football Team

Awards and Honors

  • Charles A. Boehlke, Jr. Engaged Faculty Fellow (2019-2021)

  • Faculty Book Award for Modernism vs. Traditionalism: Art in Paris, 1888-89 (2018)

  • Ira G. Zepp Distinguished Teaching Award (2015)

Gretchen McKay