Joseph Williams

PhD in Art, Art History & Visual Studies '17
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Joseph Williams researches 12th- and 13th-century architecture in Southern Italy, with a particular focus on construction techniques and pan-Mediterranean exchanges of specialized knowledge. Williams holds a Ph.D. in Art History from Duke University, where he studied with Caroline Bruzelius. He received his BA from Bates College and a Master’s degree in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Williams’s dissertation Mediterranean Trade and Architectural Production: The Church of S. Corrado in Molfetta (Apulia) ca. 1100-1300 CE considered how the expanding trade and communications of the medieval Mediterranean transformed the industry of large-scale church building. Through a mixed method of construction archaeology and comparative analysis, he examined the financial structures, building process, and technical specializations of a single church. This work was supported by a number of awards and fellowships, including a Phyllis W. G. Gordan/Lily Auchincloss/Samuel H. Kress Foundation pre-doctoral Rome Prize at the American Academy in Rome (September 2016 – July 2018).

A long-term collaborator in the Wired! Lab at Duke, Williams uses a number of digital technologies in his research, including digital photogrammetry (3-D modeling from photographs), a tool that allows close study of architectural proportions and construction process, and GIS (Geographic Information Systems), which he uses to trace the circulation of constructive knowledge among various churches. As Project Manager of the Kingdom of Sicily Image Database, Williams has researched and edited historic material for the website, coordinated a student team to find relevant images in American collections, and organized institutional outreach, such as a site visit to the Library of Congress in Washington DC. His current goals for this project include training new collaborators and presenting the website at conferences.


Introduction to Art History


The Alife Arch

The Medieval Kingdom of Sicily Database

Publications & Presentations


Medieval Kingdom of Sicily: A Database of Monuments and Sites. Project Director: Caroline Bruzelius; Project Managers: Paola Vitolo and Joseph C. Williams; Project Collaborators: Gabriella Cianciolo, Francesco Gangemi, Luciana Mocciola, Ruggero Longo, Alba Irollo; Metadata and Image Management Consultant: John J. Taormina; Technical Consultant and Database/Web Developer: David Tremmel.


Williams, Joseph C. “Mediterranean Trade and Architectural Production: The Church of S. Corrado in Molfetta (Apulia) ca. 1100-1300 CE.” PhD dissertation, forthcoming.