Touba Ghadessi

Professor of the History of Art; Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs


Watson Fine Arts Building 139 / Park Hall

(508) 286-8212


Touba Ghadessi is Interim Provost and Professor of the History of Art at Wheaton College. She is also the co-founder the Wheaton Institute for the Interdisciplinary Humanities, the former chair of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, a member of the inaugural executive committee for the Faculty of Color board, a member of the founding group of the New England Humanities Consortium, a board member of the Providence Athenaeum, and the past joint president of the oldest Renaissance society in America, the New England Renaissance Conference.

Her last book, Portraits of Human Monsters in the Renaissance, focuses on how human difference has been historically represented, categorized, and interpreted in various Italian and French courts of the Renaissance. Her new research addresses theoretical constructs of monstrosity, as well as gender fluidity in images of French Valois rulers. From alchemy, to wilderness, and to hermaphroditic bodies, this project traces how different bodies led to alternate ruling epistemologies and framed the dialogue between a monarch’s political intentions and the public’s perception of authority.

She has been invited to discuss her work at numerous venues (Mahindra Center at Harvard University, Wellesley College, Wesleyan University…) and her work has been published in books and journals, such as the Harvard University I Tatti Studies and the Oxford University Journal of the History of Collections.

The courses Ghadessi taught highlight intellectual concepts by tying them to material productions that question traditional and sometimes stale discourses. It is through these conversations that she encouraged students to become critical thinkers, inside and outside of the classroom.

To pursue her scholarly interests, Ghadessi has been awarded grants to conduct archival research in Paris, Florence, and Rome; to study at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales; and to participate in the Centre national de la recherche scientifique’s sponsored seminars in Paris.

A passionate advocate for the true and concrete value of the humanities, particularly in a professional, civic, and political context, Ghadessi believes that knowledge, in all its forms, is what constructs a just and innovative society.

Of Iranian descent, Touba Ghadessi was born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland, where she grew up in an international environment that emphasized the importance of diplomacy, cultural curiosity, and dialogue. She obtained a Maturité fédérale scientifique before moving to the United States and receiving her PhD from Northwestern University.


Ph.D., M.A., Northwestern University
B.A., Trinity University