Professor of Art History; Sanderson Chair of Arts and Sciences


BA, Florida State University; MA, Vanderbilt University; PhD, University of North Carolina

Elise Smith is a professor of art history and the Sanderson Chair in Arts and Sciences, and she also serves as the chair of the Art Department. She has taught a wide array of art history courses, including all of the major periods from Ancient to Contemporary as well as certain specialized subjects such as Women Artists, Images of Women in Art and Literature, History of Architecture, and Topics in World Art. As the founder of the Museum Studies program at Millsaps, she teaches the introductory Museum Studies course and oversees all of the student internships. In addition to giving many of the Heritage art lectures, she has also offered a number of Core humanities courses, including the freshman Core 1 seminar (Art Talk: Controversies in the Visual Arts and Social Justice and the Arts: Images of Race and Gender) and interdisciplinary premodern and modern Topics courses (Self and Community in the Sixteenth Century and Art and Revolution: Visual Propaganda during the French Age of Revolution).

Dr. Smith explains, “I have been profoundly influenced by my years of teaching at a liberal arts college that values interdisciplinary thinking. I approach art in a very different way than I used to, now seeing it in the larger context of other cultural developments.” She adds that she particularly values open discussion in the classroom: “I love seeing what questions students come up with and how they approach art works from different perspectives. Teaching should always be surprising and invigorating.”