William R. Levin » Directory2018-06-19T15:40:34-04:00


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The main telephone number for Centre College is 859.238.5200. Calls to this number will be routed to the appropriate extension. In an after-hours emergency, call 859.236.4357.

William R. Levin

Professor Emeritus of Art History Emeritus Faculty
Work Phone: 859.238.5737
Photo of William R. Levin

Biographical Info

William R. Levin is professor emeritus of art history at Centre College, where he taught from 1986 to 2010.

An art historian with wide-ranging interests, Professor Levin taught courses and seminars covering the entire chronology of the Western artistic tradition. During the years in which he was actively engaged in teaching, students frequently commended the depth, logic, clarity, and enthusiasm of his instruction, and the humanity that he demonstrated as a mentor. He has particular expertise in Italian art and architecture—its styles and symbolism—from 1100 to 1650, benefiting considerably from personal experience and first-hand observations made during the period 1976-81, when he lived and taught in Italy. Professor Levin’s familiarity with Italian art has been enhanced by numerous subsequent visits and residencies there. Both at home and in Italy, he has continued his long-standing research into the art and history of Late-Medieval and Renaissance philanthropic institutions principally in Central Italy and, more generally, his study of works of art dealing with the concept of charity. Concurrently he has been exploring the integrated program of sculpture articulating the exteriors of the several buildings clustered on Florence’s Piazza del Duomo.

Over the years Professor Levin has delivered a number of highly specialized papers on, among other topics, institutional philanthropy in Italy, representations of charity, and the sculptures of the Florentine ecclesiastical center, both at other colleges and universities and as a frequent participant at professional conferences, including annual meetings of the International Congress on Medieval Studies, the Southeastern College Art Conference, the Midwest Art History Society, the Medieval Association of the Midwest, the South-Central Renaissance Conference, the Renaissance Society of America, and the College Art Association. He is currently working on a series of scholarly articles on these themes, fifteen of which have appeared to date in various juried academic journals and thematic anthologies, and he has published a book on the art and history of the Florentine Confraternity of Mercy, a major beneficent foundation, that attracted several favorable peer reviews. A two-term former director of the Southeastern College Art Conference and former member of the editorial board of its annual scholarly journal, Professor Levin has also chaired and served on various committees within that organization as well as on others within the Italian Art Society, and for over a decade and a half he was a reader for the high-school advanced placement examination in art history for the College Board and the Educational Testing Service. He was nominated and selected for inclusion in Who’s Who in America beginning in 2008 and Who’s Who in the World beginning in 2009, and honored with the Award for Excellence in Teaching as well as the Award for Exemplary Achievement at the 2010 meeting of the Southeastern College Art Conference. In 2013, with an endowment funded in perpetuity, the latter organization established the William R. Levin Award for Research in the History of Art, a generous cash prize granted annually to one or more applicant members of the Southeastern College Art Conference (officially renamed SECAC in 2017) to encourage, recognize, and aid in furthering their scholarly pursuits.


Professor Levin is the author of Images of Love and Death in Late Medieval and Renaissance Art (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Museum of Art, 1976), and The Allegory of Mercy at the Misericordia in Florence: Historiography, Context, Iconography, and the Documentation of Confraternal Charity in the Trecento (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2004). For the latter book, he received the Southeastern College Art Conference’s 2004 Award for Excellence in Scholarly Research and Publication. In addition, on a number of occasions Professor Levin has been invited by leading academic journals to assess volumes authored by other scholars pertaining to his areas of expertise, most recently Michele Tomasi’s Le arche dei santi:  Scultura, religione e politica nel Trecento veneto (Études lausannoises d’histoire de l’art, vol. 13), Rome: Viella, 2012, his review of which appears in Speculum:  A Journal of Medieval Studies, vol. 88, no. 4 (October 2013), pp. 1179-1181. Recently, too, he has turned to the topic of nineteenth-century American architecture, authoring a booklet on a local National Historic Landmark titled Jacobs Hall, Kentucky School for the Deaf, Danville, Kentucky (Danville, KY: Jacobs Hall Museum, 2014).

Professor Levin earned a B.A. in history from Northwestern University, where he was elected to membership in Phi Beta Kappa, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in the history of art from the University of Michigan. Prior to joining the Centre College faculty, he was assistant professor of art history at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He now holds an ad-hoc appointment to the graduate faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Louisville.

To read about Professor Levin’s receipt of the Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Award for Exemplary Achievement at the 2010 meeting of the Southeastern College Art Conference, click here. For the video recording of his panel presentation along with further discussion held at that organization’s meeting the following year, in which he succinctly outlines his philosophy on effective teaching and mentoring, click here and then type “Levin” into the search bar, click the “Show All Content” button, then the large icon bearing the title “The Art of Education,” and finally the new “Show All Content” button. To access the text only of Professor Levin’s panel presentation, click here.

Email: william.levin@centre.edu

File last updated: 3/1/18

Categories: Emeritus Faculty