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Script as Image

Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 5:15 pm - 7:00 pm EDT


The first event in the Ancient and Medieval Studies Seminar Series and co-sponsored by Literature, HTC, and the SHASS Dean’s Office.

Jeffrey Hamburger

Writing, in relation to such affiliated topics as literacy, linguistics, cognition, and media studies, has a central place across and beyond the humanistic disciplines. It is time, in turn, for historians of medieval art to take a broader view of paleography, rather than view it primarily as a means of dating or localizing monuments, or, at the most literal level, deciphering illustrated texts or epigraphic inscriptions.

Within the realm of visual imagery, the written word can rise to a form of representation in its own right, prior to and independent of the complex phenomena generally considered under the rubric of “text and image”—a generalization as true of modern art as it is of the Middle Ages. In contrast to modernity, however, through much of the Middle Ages, as in Antiquity, the primary status of the spoken word and oral delivery ensured that writing, no less than picturing, was subject to suspicion.

Professor Hamburger’s presentation will survey some, if hardly all, of the many aspects of medieval script as a pictorial form, using examples ranging from Late Antiquity to the late Middle Ages and beyond.

Jeffrey Hamburger’s teaching and research focus on the art of the High and later Middle Ages. Among his areas of special interest are medieval manuscript illumination, text-image issues, the history of attitudes towards imagery and visual experience, and German vernacular religious writing of the Middle Ages, especially in the context of mysticism. Much of his scholarship has focused on the art of female monasticism. His current research includes a project that seeks to integrate digital technology into the study and presentation of liturgical manuscripts, a study of narrative imagery in late medieval German prayer books and a major international exhibition on German manuscript illumination in the age of Gutenberg.

Professor Hamburger’s books include The Mind’s Eye: Art and Theological Argument in the Medieval West and The Visual and the Visionary: Art and Female Spirituality in Late Medieval Germany.

Hamburger holds both his B.A. and Ph.D. in art history from Yale University. He previously held teaching positions at Oberlin College and the University of Toronto. He has been a guest professor in Zurich, Paris, Oxford and Fribourg, Switzerland.


Thursday, September 27, 2012
5:15 pm - 7:00 pm EDT
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MIT Media Lab, Room 633
75 Amherst St.
Cambridge, MA 02139 United States