Students studying outside the library

Schmunk named Garrison Professor of Humanities

Art history professor recognized for enriching students’ lives

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Dr. Peter L. Schumnk, in his 25th year of teaching at Wofford, has devoted his life’s work to enriching the lives of our students through the challenging study of art history and related disciplines.

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Dr. Peter L. Schmunk, professor of art history and former chair of the department of fine arts at Wofford, has been named the T.R. Garrison Professor of Humanities.

Trained in both musicology and art history, Schmunk has a wide range of scholarly interests, including the influence of music on 19th-century painters, the cultural history of Rome, and contemporary architecture. He has presented papers and published scholarly articles on a number of painters who were deeply engaged by musical culture, including Van Gogh, Corot, Degas, Whistler and Toulouse-Lautrec, and the varied ways they responded to the inspiration and example of music. 

In recent years, Schmunk also has studied the new churches that have been constructed on the outskirts of Rome and the new approaches to sacred space that they exemplify. 

“Peter Schmunk has devoted his life’s work to enriching the lives of our students through the challenging study of art history and related disciplines,” says Dr. David S. Wood, senior vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college. “Not only has he developed and taught engaging courses on campus, but he has been a leader in making the world available as our classroom through a remarkable series of short-term study abroad experiences – a total of 17, ranging from 'Modern Art and the Mediterranean' to 'The Age of Grandeur: Baroque France and German.' We are delighted to recognize his work in building a first-rate art history program at Wofford through the Garrison Professorship.”

Schmunk says he views the appointment as “a recognition of the growth of the art history program – with 25 senior majors graduating this year and three full-time professors now teaching in that area – and the increased importance that the arts have come to have in the identity and daily activity of Wofford College.”

Schmunk is an avid traveler and photographer of wilderness and cultural subjects, and has used those interests to engage his students in study abroad experiences and research. “I particularly relish the opportunity that Interim (Wofford’s January term) affords both students and professors at Wofford to engage in first-hand experience of places and cultural monuments,” he says. “I try to do something different almost every year. Last year, professor Tim Schmitz (professor and chair of the department of history) and I took students to Spain and France to study the subject of medieval pilgrimage and to walk 60 miles across northern Spain on the Camino to Santiago de Compostela.”

This year, Schmunk took students to the southwestern United States to backpack in desert wilderness areas such as Joshua Tree National Park and the Superstition Wilderness. Next year, he and Dr. G.R. Davis, professor of biology, will repeat an Interim they did several years ago on Van Gogh with a travel itinerary that will include Amsterdam, Paris and Provence. “For me, travel is closely linked with my efforts in photography,” Schmunk says. “I have exhibited my photographs at colleges and museums several times in recent years and find great satisfaction in my ongoing efforts to develop this creative work.”

This is Schmunk’s 25th year of teaching at Wofford, and he was chair of the department of fine arts from 2003 to 2011. He received his Ph.D. in comparative arts and a master’s degree in music history from Ohio University. He received his bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Washington.