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Historic Deerfield is pleased to announce two new hires this fall: Erika Gasser, Ph.D., Director of Academic Programs, and Lea Stephenson, Luce Foundation Curatorial Fellow in American Paintings and Works on Paper.
Erika Gasser, Ph.D., who started on September 25th, is an historian of religion and gender in early New England and the Atlantic World with undergraduate degrees from Brown University in American History and Educational Studies (Honors). At the University of Michigan she received a master’s degree in History and a Ph.D. in History and Women’s Studies. In her most recent position as Associate Professor of History at the University of Cincinnati, Gasser developed and taught many courses, including Colonial America; Gender in Britain and North America, 1600-1850; Comparative Atlantic Worlds; and Witchcraft and Religion in Early America.
In 2020, Gasser received The Gene Lewis Award for Teaching in the History Department at the University of Cincinnati. And in 2004, while at the University of Michigan she received the Sydney Fine Fellowship for Teaching Excellence in the History Department and the Rackham Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award. Her book, Vexed with Devils: Manhood and Witchcraft in Old and New England was published by New York University Press in 2017.
As Director of Academic Programs, Gasser will serve as a collaborative scholar and teacher and will function as Historic Deerfield’s public historian. She will lead Historic Deerfield’s academic programming, which includes public lectures, workshops, and field trips for students and adults. She will also work with the museum’s curatorial team to develop new programs and exhibitions that explore American history and material culture through the lens of Deerfield and the Connecticut River Valley. Gasser will also direct Historic Deerfield’s renowned Summer Fellowship Program, which has trained advanced undergraduates for museum careers for over 65 years.
Lea Stephenson, a Ph.D. candidate in art history at the University of Delaware, started as Historic Deerfield’s Luce Curatorial Fellow (a 2-year position) on September 11th. Stephenson has an undergraduate degree in art history from Temple University and a master’s degree from the Williams College graduate program in the History of Art. She has held previous curatorial and fellowship positions at the Clark Art Institute, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Art, and the Preservation Society of Newport County. Her research has varied greatly within fine and decorative arts, ranging from 18th-century Philadelphia silver and Aesthetic Movement stained glass in Newport interiors to the artist Ida O’Keeffe, the younger and slightly less famous sister of Georgia O’Keefe.
Stephenson’s dissertation, “‘Wonderful Things’: Egyptomania, Empire, and the Senses, 1870–1922,” considers American and British artists and collectors in Egypt during the Gilded Age and the embodied and material engagement with the modern country and ancient empire. She is also a contributor to the catalogue accompanying the exhibition Unnamed Figures: The Black Presence and Absence in the American Northeast, opening at the Museum of American Folk Art in November, 2023, and traveling to Historic Deerfield in May, 2024.
As the Luce Curatorial Fellow, Stephenson will work with Historic Deerfield’s collection of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century paintings and works on paper, conducting research, curating exhibitions, and developing public programs that highlight the collection’s unique strengths and perspectives.
“We are thrilled to welcome Erika and Lea to the Historic Deerfield team,” said John Davis, President and CEO of Historic Deerfield. “Their expertise and passion will be invaluable as we continue to share our unique collections and stories with the public. We are especially grateful to the Henry Luce Foundation for their support of emerging professionals in the field of American Art.”