Attention has been turning in recent times to medieval image theory, the question even being asked whether and how pre-modern notions might illuminate post-modern conditions. In this wide-ranging seminar, we will focus on textual and pictorial witnesses to medieval understandings of the nature and function of images, especially in the Latin West. We will adopt a broad purview and submit to scrutiny select texts written over many centuries, from late antiquity to the later middle ages, focusing on issues of representation - of "likeness and presence" - in painting and in sculpture, and reviewing throughout the roles assigned to makers and beholders of images. Much of our attention will be directed to justifications of religious imagery and accounts of the place of images (physical and mental) in worship and devotion, but we will touch upon other dimensions of thinking about images, including aesthetic, as witnessed in rhetorical tracts (styles and modes), philosophical writings (theories of vision), and even travel and marvel literature (the reception of antique statuary). Students will become acquainted with some of the increasingly abundant secondary literature in this area. The seminar is open to students in any field interested in pre-modern notions of images--their functions, their powers, their dangers.
Estimated cost of materials: less than $50.