Marius Hauknes (Sabbatical Fall 2022/Spring 2023)

Assistant Professor, Medieval

Marius Hauknes



Marius B. Hauknes is a historian of medieval art whose primary research focuses on the intersections of art, science, mythology, and theology. His first book, Images of the World: Art, Knowledge, and Politics in Papal Rome is currently under review with Cambridge University Press. The book is a study of the thirteenth-century papacy’s use of monumental wall paintings as vehicles for political messaging and philosophical speculation. It examines two mural cycles: the painted crypt in the Cathedral of Anagni and the murals of the cardinal’s palace of Santi Quattro Coronati in Rome. These monuments effectively transformed the written medieval encyclopedia into visual and spatial assemblages of knowledge that viewers could step into. The book shows how medieval Roman fresco painters used architectural space to distribute complex ideas within stylistically integrated images, thereby introducing a new role for mural painting as a visual-spatial tool for philosophical thinking.

A new book project, The Image of Chaos in the Medieval World, examines how medieval artists figured anxiety about otherness through visual representations of “chaos.” The book charts the development of the image of chaos from its origins in Biblical mythopoesis, through its innovative utilization in philosophical theology, to its final deployment in later medieval eschatological imagery. Whereas artworks of the early medieval period foregrounded the mythopoetic and philosophical dimensions of the chaos concept, images produced after the Islamic expansion in the Mediterranean turned chaos into an instrument for political and religious othering. These visual discourses played a central role in the development of race and ethnicity constructs in the Middle Ages. The book argues that by reconceptualizing the image of chaos as the image of the threatening Other, medieval artists contributed to the formation of a prejudicial understanding of the world as an arena for reparatory combat against diversity. 

Before joining Notre Dame, Hauknes was a Harper-Schmidt Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at the University of Chicago (2016-2017), and an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University (2014-2016). His research has also been supported by fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (predoctoral, 2011-2013) and the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study (sabbatical, 2019-2020). His publications have appeared in Studies in IconographyGesta, and The Art Bulletin


B.A., M.A., University of Oslo, Norway
Ph.D., Princeton University


Office Address
411 Decio Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556

Mailing Address
306 Riley Hall of Art
Notre Dame, IN 46556

ph: 574.631.6979