Sacred Arts: Byzantine Materiality




       Scholarly and popular descriptions of Byzantium often emphasize the mystical—e.g. apophatic theology, hesychasm, and theosis—while overlooking the mediating role of matter that the Christian belief in the incarnation implies. In a time when ubiquitous computers, smart phones, and tablets are making the human experience ever more digital, “virtual,” and effectively immaterial, scholars across numerous disciplines—including Byzantine studies—are reconsidering the significance of matter and materiality.

       In 2018, the Sacred Arts Initiative will host “Byzantine Materiality” to explore the role of materiality in Byzantium. The conference will consider such topics as the veneration of relics and icons; the production, experience, and “social lives” of art, architecture, and material culture objects; the sensory experience of the liturgy and music; the rhetoric of ekphrasis; asceticism and other embodied religious practices; the socio-economic values implied by material culture; and the significance of matter in Byzantine theology.

A call for papers is forthcoming.