Dr. Karen McCluskey
Senior Lecturer, Honours Co-ordinator, Discipline Head in History

Email: karen.mccluskey@nd.edu.au
Phone: 02 8204 4121

Karen McCluskey is a Senior Lecturer and Discipline Head in History on the Sydney Campus.

Karen was awarded a PhD from the Department of Art History and Theory at the University of Sydney in 2006. Thesis title: 'The Politics of Sanctity: Visualising Local Saints and Beati in Late-Mediaeval Venice'. Karen also holds a Master’s degree in Art History from Queen’s University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from McMaster University, both in Ontario, Canada.

Before teaching at UNDA, Karen lectured in the Department of Art History and Theory and in the Centre for Continuing Education both at the University of Sydney; she has tutored at UNSW, University of Sydney and Queen's University, Canada. Karen has taught courses on many aspects of Italian, Byzantine and European art, as well as on various themes in Western history and historiography.

Karen co-leads The University of Notre Dame’s Experience the World unit to Spain with Fremantle’s Professor Deborah Gare.
Teaching Area
Mediaeval and Early Modern European History
Art History
Themes in Ancient History
Research Expertise and Supervision
  • Sanctity and devotion in mediaeval and early-modern Europe
  • Saints' relics, sepulchres and art in mediaeval Italy
  • Mediaeval pilgrimage
  • Legends and myths
  • Intersection of politics and religion in mediaeval and early-modern Europe
  • Gender in history
  • Historiography
Karen is currently writing a monograph on Venetian sanctity called: Local Sainthood and Devotion in Late-Mediaeval Venice: a typological study. She is also collaborating with Dr Christine de Matos on a special feature for the journal 'History Australia' on Australia, Classicism and the Great War (October 2018) and with Dr. Višnja Bralić of the Croatian Conservation Institute/Hrvatski Restauratorski Zavod, Zagreb on an analysis of Lazzaro Bastiani's predella panels representing the cult of Leone Bembo, c. 1485.

Mediaeval and early modern history and art history, especially saints/devotion, gender, identity, biography, historiography, myths and legends
Topics in ancient history

Recent supervision

  • Re-Orienting the Renaissance in the Suleymanic Age, 1520-1595 [current]
  • The Emblematic Representation of Joseph of Nazareth in Jeronimo Gracian's 'Summary of the Excellencies of St. Joseph' (1597)

  • The Visual Representation of Political Philosophy on the Fourteenth-Century Doge's Palace in Venice [current]
  • Victorian Medievalism and its relationship to Nationalism at the South Kensington Museum and British Museum, 1867-1914. [current]

  • Visual analysis of the Hours of Anne le Routye, Rare Books, University of Sydney [current]
  • Body-Part Reliquaries: Visualising the Sacred in the Later Middle Ages [2015]
  • An Exploration of Masculinity in Sir Thomas Malory's 'Le Morte D'Arthur' [2014]
  • Spain's Valley of the Fallen: Representation and Legacy [2014]
  • 'Next Year in Jerusalem': Visual expressions of Zionism in the Szyk Haggadah [2013]
  • Gender & Power in Early Palaiologan Byzantium: the Case of Anna of Savoy (c. 1306-1365) [2012]
  • A Defence against Calumny: Hortense Mancini's Salon Years (1675-1699) [2012]
  • Marcus Aurelius and the Myth of the Philosopher-King [2011]
  • Philip II of Macedon: a revision [2010]


Research and engagement

Karen is currently writing a monograph on Venetian sanctity called: Local Sainthood and Devotion in Late-Mediaeval Venice: a typological study. (2018)
Book Chapters
"Why Study 'dark age' history?" In History for the Curious: Why Study History? (A Decision-Making Guide to College Majors, Research & Scholarships, and Career Counseling for Students, Educators, and Parents) [forthcoming 2017]
Journal articles and proceedings
McCluskey, K. (2013). 'Official Sanctity alla Veneziana: Gerardo, Pietro Orseolo and Giacomo Salomani' Conserveries mémorielles [En ligne], #14 | 2013, mis en ligne le 01 juillet 2013, consulté le 29 août 2013. URL : http://cm.revues.org/1718

McCluskey, K. (2013). Miraculous Visions: Apparitio in the Vitae of Mediaeval Venetian Saints and Beati’ IKON, Journal of Iconographic Studies, vol. 6, 167-181.

McCluskey, K. (2012) 'That Bloody Myth of Venice Again! Noble Blood and Sanctity in Venice', Blood (Sydney, Trunk Books).
Conference papers
'From local obscurity to civic heroes: the elevation of domestic saints and ‘beati’ in Venice in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries' Australia and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (ANZAMEMS), Victoria University, Wellington New Zealand

'Ajax and Anzacs: Greek classicism, Australia and the Great War' World History Association Conference Ghent, Belgium (in collaboration with Dr Christine de Matos, The University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney)

'Medieval Festival: a journey of interdisciplinary learning and teaching' Sydney 2015 Forum: Team-based learning and teaching The University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney (in collaboration with Jane Bergeron and Michael Pigott [theatre studies] and Renee Kohler-Ryan [philosophy], University of Notre Dame Sydney)

El Greco’s Burial of Count Orgaz: a problem of interpretation, UNDA Art History Mini-Conference

'Bellum iustum: hagiography and Venetian imperialism in the later Middle Ages', WHA conference: Faith, Empire and Conflict, Fremantle, WA
'Local Sanctity in Late-Mediaeval Venice: convergences and divergences' Renaissance Society of America Annual Conference, San Diego, USA

'Happiness for Dummies: Saints' Lives and the Possibility of Happiness in the Later Middle Ages', Happiness Symposium, Arts and Sciences, UNDA Sydney

'Miraculous Visions: Apparitio in the Vitae of Mediaeval Venetian Saints and Beati', 'Visions' 6th International Conference of Iconographic Studies, University of Rijeka, Croatia

'Official Sanctity alla veneziana: Pietro Orseolo, Gerardo da Venezia and Giacomo Salomani', Renaissance Society of America Annual Conference, Venice, Italy
Curated Exhibitions or Events
Karen contributed to the organisation and presentation of a major Mediaeval Festival called 'Keeping up with the Pilgrims' in November 2014. A multi-disciplinary event, coordinated along with Dr. Renee Kohler-Ryan (Senior lecturer, Philosophy), Ms. Jane Bergeron (Senior lecturer and discipline head, Theatre Studies) and Mr. Michael Pigott (Lecturer, Theatre Studies), the mediaeval festival was a unique learning experience for students of all three disciplines, as well as the lecturers and audience members. Throughout the semester, the Philosophy, Theatre Studies and History students all focused on the central theme of pilgrimage through analysis of a common text: Geoffrey Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales' (end 14th century). At the festival, students of each discipline presented their final works: mediaeval disputations (philosophy), digital media projects on relevant mediaeval objects (history) and a performance of the Canterbury Tales (theatre). Combining in-class learning, interdisciplinary exchanges and discipline-specific resources, the event was a huge success and a model for cutting edge, interactive teaching and learning.
Professional affiliations
Historical Consultant: restoration of Lazzaro Bastiani's Episodes of the Life of Leone Bembo, late 15th century; collaboration with Croatian Conservation Institute/Hrvatski Restauratorski Zavod, Zagreb http://www.h-r-z.hr/
Commonwealth Research Grant, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation for Venetian Research, UK Italian Culture Research Grant: Ministero degli Affari Esteri, Rome IPA and IPRS, University of Sydney RIS Seed Grant, University of Notre Dame Samuel H. Kress Travel Grant, USA