University of Vermont

216th Commencement Ceremonies - May 20 and 21, 2017

Honorary Degree Recipient

Alexander Nemerov
Doctor of Letters

Alexander NemerovAlexander Nemerov, University of Vermont Class of 1985, explores broad topics of American cultural history, literature, and material culture as they apply to American visual art. A celebrated author, public speaker, curator, and professor of art history, Alexander Nemerov opens pathways of personal understanding and meaning-making for his students and readers. His inspired, exacting inquiries underscore the relevance of the humanities in our civic and personal lives today.

Professor Nemerov graduated cum laude with a bachelor of arts in art history and English. He credits his University of Vermont art history professors Christie Fengler-Stephany, Margaret Roland, and Bill Lipke, and English professor Mary Jane Dickerson, among others, with directly inspiring his career as an art historian and as a teacher. Upon earning his doctorate in art history from Yale University in 1992, he began teaching at Stanford University. In 2001 he returned to his graduate school alma mater, where his class “Introduction to Western Art” grew to attract one of the largest enrollments of any undergraduate class at Yale.

In the words of a former Yale colleague, “When he speaks about art, Alex has a mesmerizing quality, one that derives from a combination of deep learning and individual poetic sensibility. Generations of students—in economics, biology, psychology—who have taken only one class in the history of art have been taught to see by Alex, and taught to value what they see.” In 2009, Professor Nemerov was appointed chair of the Department of the History of Art at Yale University, and in 2010 he was named to an endowed professorship.

In 2012, Professor Nemerov accepted the position of Carl and Marilynn Thoma Provostial Professor in the Arts and Humanities at Stanford University and is currently the chair of the Department of Art and Art History. He continues to kindle passion among students for the study of art history in his enormously popular classes, some of the largest humanities classes at Stanford. In 2014 the Stanford Daily named him to their Top 10 Professors list.

Over the course of his twenty-year career, Professor Nemerov has published seven highly regarded books, including the acclaimed Acting in the Night: Macbeth and the Places of the Civil War, considered startlingly original for its holistic reading of the Civil War through the prismatic lens of a single night’s performance of Macbeth in Washington, D.C. attended by President Lincoln. He has authored more than thirty articles and essays for peer-reviewed journals, including American Art, Art History, and Critical Inquiry, and has curated three exhibitions at national museums, each accompanied by a catalogue under his authorship. This spring he gave the 66th annual Andrew W. Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery of Art, becoming the first speaker in the history of the series to speak on American art.

Professor Nemerov leads his audiences to a rich and nuanced understanding of historic eras through analysis and appreciation of aesthetic expressions in a wide range of genres; his work encourages us to look for those connections ourselves. His teaching, writing, and curating reflect a profound belief in the enduring importance of the arts and humanities to a thoughtful and deeply felt life.


Last modified March 22 2017 03:51 PM