Introducing the Shohet Scholars for 2022-2023

For Immediate Release on 13 May 2022

The officers and directors of the International Catacomb Society are pleased to announce the Shohet Scholars for 2022-2023:

Jennifer Barry, Ph.D. (University of Mary Washington)
Project: Unfolding the Theotokos

"The proposed research project examines how the debates associated with the virginal status of the Theotokos overlap with the larger discourse of gender-based violence. I argue that this discourse gave life to both the literary and material representations of Mary’s reproductive body. More specifically, this study examines how art and text overlap in the depictions of the vaginal folds, hymen, and womb of the virgin preserved on the walls of the Chora Church (Kariye Camii) in Istanbul. With the support of the Shohet Scholar Program, I plan to complete the final research for chapter two of my second monograph during the fall semester of 2022. In the chapter titled, “Unfolding the Theotokos,” I will explore the literary thought-world that set the standard for how the Virgin Mary’s reproductive body was envisioned in the apocryphal texts of the third and fourth centuries and then became the source of anxiety of later Christological controversies. These discourses gave life to the visual representations of Mary’s body. Here, I will assess various mosaics that focus on Mary’s reproductive body. More specifically, I plan to examine how art and text overlap in the depictions of the vaginal folds, hymen, and womb of the virgin preserved on the walls of Kariye Camii."

Rachel Catherine Patt, Ph.D. (Emory University)
Project: Pothos: Longing from Classical Portrait Image to Byzantine Icon

"With a grant from the International Catacomb Society, I will be positioned to conduct all
the necessary new research to expand my dissertation successfully into my proposed book
project, Pothos: Longing from Classical Portrait Image to Byzantine Icon. The book examines the trajectory of Late Antique portraiture as sculpted formats waned, small-scale and precious formats persisted, and eventually secular imagery gave way to icons. I contend that throughout such transformations, the conceptual heritage of pothos, or a longing desire for that which is absent, remains crucial to these images’ interpretation. In doing so, the project generates a more comprehensive understanding of cross-Mediterranean visual trends that transcend one chronological period.  In order to advance this project, I will rely on my training in Classical and Byzantine art history and propose to spend a significant portion of 2023 in Europe conducting new objects-based research and working firsthand with collections of Late Antique and Byzantine portraits and icons."

We congratulate these scholars on the quality and impact of their work.


Robin M. Jensen, Ph.D.
Executive Officer and Chairman of the Scholarship Committee

Jessica Dello Russo, Ph.D.
Executive Officer and Secretary to the Board

About the Shohet Scholars Program:
The Shohet Scholars Program of the International Catacomb Society desires to support
scholars of demonstrated promise and ability who are judged capable of producing
significant, original research within the sphere of the Mediterranean world from the late
Hellenistic Period to the end of the Roman Empire. Of special interest are
interdisciplinary projects that approach traditional topics from new perspectives.
One or more Shohet Scholars will be selected each year and supported for a period of
one year. Grants may be made to seed innovative approaches and new ideas or to cover
specific expenses or phases of a larger project under the direction of the applicant. At
this time, awards in the range of $2,000 to $30,000 will be made.
If you have any questions about the suitability of proposed projects, application
procedures, or any other matters related to the Shohet Scholars Program, please
contact ICS at: