Director, University Engagement Programme

Academia/Edu: Giovanna Vitelli
Research summary:
I am an historical archaeologist with an anthropological approach to past human experience. I seek out interdisciplinary methodologies that build on my training as an archaeologist, and encompass history and art history, ethnography, and material culture studies. I look at the religious, intellectual, and social world of early modern colonial America, England, and France, especially the effects of post-Reformation, Baroque and early Enlightenment intellectual currents on tradition, knowledge gathering, and religious conversion, taking a generational/longitudinal perspective on the transmission of tradition and knowledge. I am also focused on the materiality of early modern collecting, especially within the European museum context, on the role of collections in the intellectual networks of 17th century England and New England, and on the impact of early modern collections in the construction of contemporary Indigenous identity.
My practice-based research interests include the development of digital methodologies for object study across disciplines, as I have been part of the team developing the award-winning ‘Cabinet’ digital platform at Oxford. I have a keen pedagogical interest in intellectual approaches to the use of material culture: my long-standing experience in teaching across the Oxford University Museums collections, particularly for departments in the Social Sciences and Humanities, informs my approach to the design and delivery of cross-disciplinary papers in the curriculum. 
Giovanna Vitelli graduated with an AB in Anthropology from Harvard University, a Masters from the Architectural Association (London) and a PhD in Archaeology from Reading University. She also was a Tavella-Stewart postgraduate at Magdalen College, Oxford. 
Dr Vitelli was UNESCO consultant archaeologist for Islamic sites in North Africa for a number of years, before turning to medieval and early modern European research. 
Prior to developing the University Engagement Programme’s cross-disciplinary teaching offering, Dr Vitelli taught archaeology, anthropology, historic landscape studies, and collections research in Canada, the US and the UK, directing field schools in the US on indigenous-colonial sites, and on digital (GIS) mapping. 
She has published on both French and English colonial material culture, and on the intersect of material culture and social networks in the early modern period, and has both published and lectured extensively across Europe on the practice and philosophy of cross-disciplinary museum teaching. 
Recent publications

2015 One Object, Many Meanings: Narratives in the University Museum. In Léontine Meijer-van Mensch and Aedín Mac Devitt, eds., ICOM Museum International. Museum Collections make Connections. Vol 65 No 257-260

2015 Tradition and Inventiveness: Decolonising an ‘Indian’ Bell. In Steve Brown, Anne Clarke and Ursula Frederick, eds. Object Stories: Artefacts and Archaeologists, Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, pp 71-76

2014 Thinking with Objects: The Ashmolean Museum’s University Engagement Programme in the Oxford Academic Community. In Stefanie S Jandl and Mark S Gold, eds., A Handbook for Academic Museums, Vol.3, Cambridge, MA: MuseumsEtc

2013 Living Side by Side: Approaching Coexistence through Narrative. Historical Archaeology, 47(1): 80-89

2013 From Arcadia to Acadia: 19th-century Visitors and the Influence of the ‘Maritime Pastoral’ on Maine Island Archaeology.  In Peter E. Pope and Shannon Lewis-Simpson, eds. Exploring Atlantic Transitions: Archaeologies of Permanence and Transience in New Found Lands. Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology Monograph no. 7, pp115-125. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Boydell and Brewer

2012 The Glass. In S.R. Pendery (ed.), St. Croix Island International Historic Site, Calais, Maine: History, Archaeology, and Interpretation, pp. 137-156. Occasional Publications in Maine Archaeology. Maine State Museum, Maine Historic Preservation Commission, Augusta

2012 Comments on Collections: Case Studies in Curation and Management. The SHA Newsletter, 45, 4: 4

2011 Change and Continuity, Practice and Memory: A Response to Stephen Silliman,  American Antiquity, 76, 1, pp. 177-189

Featured projects
Funding sources 
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation: +$2m grant awarded to the Ashmolean Museum in 2012, to expand the use of the museum’s collections in University teaching. 
  • Cabinet:
    • IT Innovation Seed Fund 2015-16
    • Van Houten Fund 2017
    • Digital Content Board 2017 
    • GLAM Digital Strategy 2017-18 
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