Jennifer Pruitt

Position title: Howard and Ellen Louise Schwartz Associate Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture

Pronouns: she/her/hers


Phone: (608) 263.2349

216 Conrad A. Elvehjem Building
Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:30–1:30pm, and by appointment.
To schedule a virtual appointment please use the link:

Curriculum Vitae

B.A. Smith College, 1997
M.A. Harvard University, 2005
Ph.D. Harvard University, 2009

I am a historian of Islamic art and architecture with a focus on the Arabic-speaking world. In both research and teaching, I am driven by a central question: how do multi-faith, diverse populations in the Arabic-speaking world patronize, utilize, and respond to their built environment?

My first book, Building the Caliphate: Construction, Destruction, and Sectarian Identity in Early Fatimid Architecture (Yale, 2020), investigates the early architecture of the Fatimids, an Ismaili Shi‘i Muslim dynasty that dominated the Mediterranean world from the 10th to the 12th centuries. It argues that that architecture played a pivotal role in negotiating the kaleidoscope of religious identities in the medieval Islamic world and challenges the assumption that artistic efflorescence was a function of religious tolerance in the medieval Mediterranean. Instead, it argues that conflict and destruction played a crucial, productive role in the formation of medieval Islamic architecture.

My articles have appeared in the journals World Art, The Medieval Globe, Muqarnas, and in The Companion to Islamic Art and Architecture (Wiley-Blackwell, 2018), Sacred Precincts: Non-Muslim Religious Sites in Islamic Territories (Brill, 2015), and Encyclopaedia of Islam. I am currently embarking on a new book-length project: Inheriting an Islamic Golden Age: Globalism, National Identity, and Invented Histories in the Architecture of the Arabian Gulf. In it, I investigate the integration of classical forms of Islamic art in the contemporary architecture of the Arabian Gulf.

My work has been supported by a First Book Award from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Fulbright, the American Research Center in Egypt, and the Institute of Ismaili Studies, and the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts (CASVA).

Building the Caliphate: Construction, Destruction, and Sectarian Identity in Early Fatimid Architecture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020)

“The Fatimid Holy City: Destroying and Building Jerusalem in the Eleventh Century,” The Medieval Globe (2018).

“Monumentalizing the Ephemeral: Ganzeer and the Rise of Cairene Street Art” World Art (2017):1–23.

“The Three Caliphates, a Comparative Approach,” with Glaire Anderson. In The Companion to Islamic Art and Architecture, edited by Gülru Necipoğlu and Finbarr B. Flood (Blackwell Companions to Art History), 223–49 (Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017).

Catalog entries on medieval and contemporary art of the Middle East in Ink, Silk, and Gold: Islamic Art from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, edited by Laura Weinstein (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts Publications, 2015).

“Miracle at Muqattam: Moving a Mountain to Build a Church in the Early Fatimid Caliphate (969–995),” in Sacred Precincts: Non-Muslim Religious Sites in Islamic Territories, edited by Mohammad Gharipour, 277–90 (Boston: Brill, 2014).

“Method in Madness: Reconsidering the Destruction of Churches in the Fatimid Era,” Muqarnas 30 (2013):119–39.

Review of “In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art” (exhibition, Harvard University, Sackler Museum) College Art Association Reviews, 2013.

Online Publications/Lectures

ART HIST 210: The History of the World in 20 Buildings
ART HIST 373: Great Cities of Islam
ART HIST 305: Islamic Art and Architecture
ART HIST 403: Modern and Contemporary Art of the Middle East
ART HIST 413: Art in the Age of the Caliphs
ART HIST 440: Art and Power in the Arab World
ART HIST 515/815: Cross-Cultural Encounters in Islamic Art
ART HIST 515/815: Conflict and Coexistence in the Architecture of Medieval Spain
ART HIST 600: From Mecca to Dubai: Current Issues in the Architecture of the Arabian Gulf