Professor McClanan teaches western medieval and Byzantine art history as well as working extensively within the digital humanities. She brings the first-hand study of artworks to her teaching whenever possible, and mentored her students in original research showcased in an ongoing web-based database of Medieval objects in Portland collections and a 2012 exhibit. She has published a book analyzing images of early Byzantine empresses and edited an anthology on Iconoclasm (published as well in Chinese translation) and another anthology on the material culture of sex, procreation and marriage. Her current research investigates a cycle of mosaics from the Byzantine imperial palace. She studied at Harvard (PhD, 1998), the Johns Hopkins and Columbia Universities and has excavated Roman and medieval sites in Turkey, Jordan and Israel.
Within the digital humanities, Professor McClanan's work includes consulting for several other universities, contributing to OERs such as Smarthistory, and reviewing online pedagogical materials for the Saylor Foundation and Cengage Publishing.