Color photograph of the head and shoulders of Olga Bush, against a faded dark yellow wall

Olga Bush

Lester K. Little Resident in Medieval Studies
October 11, 2021–January 7, 2022
Visiting Scholar, Hispanic Studies Department, Vassar College

Olga Bush focuses on Islamic visual culture of the medieval Mediterranean, especially in the Iberian Peninsula, and on nineteenth- and twentieth-century European and American Orientalism. Bush’s interdisciplinary interests are reflected in her highly praised book, Reframing the Alhambra: Architecture, Poetry, Textiles and Court Ceremonial (2018), and in a special issue of the journal Muqarnas—edited with AAR’s former director Avinoam Shalem and titled Gazing Otherwise: Modalities of Seeing in and beyond the Lands of Islam (2015)—that pursued theoretical approaches to the aesthetics and construction of the gaze and visuality in the cultural production of the Islamicate world. She has published chapters in many books and catalogues and essays in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, International Journal of Islamic Architecture, Gesta, Muqarnas, and Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, among others.

As an AAR Resident, Bush plans to complete the second chapter and begin a third for her book in progress, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Visual Culture of al-Andalus and the Medieval Muslim West in Light of the Environmental Turn. Grounded in medieval Islamic philosophical and scientific thought, the project examines man’s relation to nature and nonhuman beings and how it shaped visual culture and the built environment in medieval Iberia. She intends to explore the city’s architecture and numerous museums and, conditions permitting, to travel to Sicily to view the mosaics at the Villa Imperiale del Casale (of immediate concern to her current project) and to revisit Palermo, Cefalú, and Monreale, sites relevant to the Islamic influence on Norman art and architecture.