Meet Art Historian Doctor Thomas Spencer (PhD)
Doctor Thomas Spencer (PhD) has lived in France on a permanent basis since 1993. He originally planned to do a one-year French language course before returning to the United States. In the end he didn’t return to his home in Missouri, but decided to continue his education in Paris. Since then he has spent his time doing research at the Sorbonne University where he holds multiple degrees in medieval art history and archaeology. Thomas recently finished his doctoral thesis on Romanesque churches in the Champagne region of France. His work earned him a PhD and the distinction summa cum laude with unanimous congratulations by the jury.
Part of his work in the past few years has led him to participate in archaeological digs from southern Italy to northern France. During his studies of medieval architecture, he even discovered a church that had once been converted into a beer brewery and later abandoned. His study of this former church revealed it to be the oldest standing religious monument in the city of Troyes (France). This unusual find led to a full scale exhibit, several publications and his first teaching opportunities. Most recently, he taught medieval art classes for Columbia University at their Paris campus and acted as a research director and mentor for their students writing papers on medieval topics. He is currently working on the publication of his thesis and several related articles.
His love for Europe and for France in particular, started at a very early age. When he was five years old, his parent’s gave him “Madeline’s Rescue” by Ludwig Bemelmans. The wonderful illustrations of Paris in that book never left his imagination while he was growing up. As a teenager, the walls of his bedroom harbored photos of the Eiffel Tower and of Mont Saint Michel. After a couple of trips to Europe in his late teens, Thomas knew for certain that “the Old World” was in his blood.
At the same time, his familiarity and love of churches is not new either. He is the son of a Methodist minister and grade school teacher who reared their children to understand their Christian roots and to cultivate their appreciation of all religion in general. Thomas thus has a strong ecumenical streak in him and loves to learn and share with people from all value systems.