Professor Barber’s area of specialization is the history of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine art, with a particular focus on the history and theory of the icon. He has also worked extensively on Byzantine aesthetics and intellectual history and with Byzantine manuscripts. He has written and edited a number of books. These include two studies of the contested status of the icon in Byzantium: Figure and Likeness: On the Limits of Representation in Byzantine Iconoclasm (2002) and Contesting the Logic of Painting: Art and Understanding in Eleventh-Century Byzantium (2007). Current and future research will lead to books that examine the status of the icon in the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries.
In addition to presenting papers at numerous domestic and international conferences and symposia, Professor Barber has co-organized several interdisciplinary workshops on Byzantine intellectual history. These have resulted in such publications as: Reading Michael Psellos (2006) and Medieval Greek Commentaries on the Nicomachean Ethics (2009). Professor Barber also currently serves as the president of the United States National Committee for Byzantine Studies.
Professor Barber teaches undergraduate lecture courses on all aspects of Early Christian, Byzantine and Post-Byzantine art. Undergraduate and graduate seminars focus on current conversations in the field and will emphasize conceptual issues.
Professor Barber is currently at work on a book that examines the intellectual grounds of late sixteenth-century Cretan painting, particularly the work of Michael Damaskinos, George Klontzas and Domenikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco). He is also overseeing a multi-volume publication of translations of sources for the study of Byzantine art and aesthetics.
“Defacement,” in The Yearbook of Comparative Literature 56 (2010, pub. 2012)
“Regarding Prayer: Some Thoughts on the John the Baptist Icon,” in Holy Image, Hallowed Ground: Icons from Sinai, ed. S. Gerstel and R. Nelson (Brepols, 2011)
“On Cult Images and the Origins of Medieval Art,” in Sinn und Un-Sinn des Kultbildes: Die Intellektualisierung und die Mystifizierung mittelalterlicher Kunst, ed. M. Büchsel and R. Müller (Mann Verlag, 2010)
Medieval Greek Commentaries on the Nicomachean Ethics, co-edited with David Jenkins (Brill, 2009)
Contesting the Logic of Painting: Art and Understanding in Eleventh-Century Byzantium. (Brill, 2007)
“In the Presence of the Text: A Note on Writing, Speaking and Performing in the Theodore Psalter,” in Art and Text in Byzantium, ed. Liz James (Cambridge University Press, 2007)
Reading Michael Psellos, co-edited with David Jenkins (Brill, 2006)
“Icons, Prayer, and Vision in the Eleventh Century,” in Byzantine Christianity: A People's History of Christianity, ed. D. Krueger (Augsburg Fortress, 2006)
Figure and Likeness: On the Limits of Representation in Byzantine Iconoclasm (Princeton University Press, 2002)