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

Announcement of 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.


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

About the Shohet Scholars Grant Program:

The Shohet Scholars Grant Program funds research on the Ancient Mediterranean from the Hellenistic Era to the Early Middle Ages. Shohet Scholars may do their research in the fields of archeology, art history, classical studies, history, comparative religions, or related subjects. Of special interest are interdisciplinary projects that approach traditional topics from new perspectives. For more information about the Shohet Scholars Program and other activities of the International Catacomb Society, please visit: or contact:

International Catacomb Society
217 Hanover Street, Suite 130413
Boston, MA 02113


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