Eiren Shea
Curriculum Vitae

Eiren Shea

Associate Professor
Department chair of East Asian Studies
Offices, Departments, or Centers: Art History , East Asian Studies ,

Eiren Shea is Associate Professor of Art History at Grinnell College, where she offers classes on the arts of pre-modern Asia. Her book, Mongol Court Dress, Identity Formation, and Global Exchange (Routledge, 2020) focuses on textiles and dress of the Mongol Empire in the thirteenth and fourteenth century and investigates how this newly-confederated group from the Steppe conquered the most sophisticated societies in existence in less than a century and impacted the arts of China, West Asia, and even Europe.

Her principle fields of research include arts of the Mongol period, the Silk Road, China, Central Asia, and Persia, with a special focus on textiles. She is also interested in East-West cultural exchange more broadly. Her interest in textiles has led her to pursue research in museum and private collections in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and China. To better study the material she also completed the intensive textile analysis course offered by the Centre International d’Étude des Textiles Anciens (CIETA) in Lyon. Shea was a pre-doctoral fellow at the Center for the Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) in Washington, D.C. from 2014-2016.

Courses Taught

Tutorial: Arts of the Silk Road(s); Tutorial: The Silk Road(s); Introduction to Art History; Arts and Visual Cultures of China; The Mongol Century; Gender and Sexuality in East Asian Art; Collecting the “Orient”; From Edo to Istanbul; Art History Senior Seminar

Education and Degrees

Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, East Asian Languages and Civilizations

M.A. University of Pennsylvania, East Asian Languages and Civilizations

B.A. Bard College, French and Art History

Selected Publications


Medieval Textiles across Eurasia, c. 300-1500,  with Patricia Blessing (Princeton University), and Elizabeth Dospěl Williams (Dumbarton Oaks) for the Cambridge University Press Elements Series: Elements in The Global Middle Ages (edited by Geraldine Heng and Susan J. Noakes), 2023.  
Access Medieval Textiles across Eurasia here

Mongol Court Dress, Identity Formation, and Global Exchange. Series: Routledge Research in Art History, 2020.


“Intentional Identities: Liao Women’s Dress and Cultural and Political Power,” Acta Via Serica, Vol. 6, No. 2 December 2021: 37-60.

“The Spread of Gold Thread in the Mongol Period,” Journal of Song Yuan Studies, 50, 2021: 381-415.

“Chinese Textiles in Mamluk Tombs: Maritime Trade and Cultural Exchange in the Fourteenth Century,” The Seas and Mobility in Islamic Art. Edited by Radha Dalal, Sean Roberts, and Jochen Sokoly. Yale University Press, 2021

“Yuan Court Dress and the Formation of a Global Mongol Aesthetic,” Proceedings of The Mongols and Global History, Florence, Villa I Tatti, 10-11 December 2018. Edited by Anne Dunlop. Harvard University Press, forthcoming.

“Textile as Traveler: The Transmission of Inscribed Robes across Asia in the Twelfth through Fourteenth Centuries.” Arts Asiatiques, Vol. 73, 2018: 97-112.

“Painted Silks: Form and Production of Women’s Court Dress in the Mongol Empire.” The Textile Museum Journal, Vol. 45, 2018: 36-55.

The Mongol Cultural Legacy in East and Central Asia: The Early Ming and Timurid Courts.Ming Studies [Asian Visual Culture], no. 78, September 2018: 32-56.

Articles for SmartHistory: 

“The Silk Roads,” https://smarthistory.org/reframing-art-history/the-silk-roads/

“Portrait of Chabi (Yuan Dynasty, Mongol Empire)” https://smarthistory.org/portrait-of-chabi/

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