“Byzantine Materiality” is a two-part interdisciplinary event of the Sacred Arts Initiative at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, funded by the Henry Luce Foundation, that explores matter, materials, and materiality in Byzantine art and culture. It begins with a preparatory workshop for conference speakers held September 14-16, 2018, followed by a public conference in May 8-12, 2019, which will also incorporate shorter papers. It aims to examine material strategies of objects, makers, and users; the agency and affective properties of materials and objects in sacred, political, and other social contexts; Byzantine depictions and descriptions of matter in images and texts (including poetry and hymnography, rhetoric, theology, etc.); and sensual/embodied experiences of the sacred.


Eleven conference speakers gathered on the campus of St. Vladimir’s Seminary from September 14-16, 2018 to explore the theme of “Byzantine materiality” in preparation for the May conference. Topics of discussion included Byzantine and ancient theories of matter and form; the use and significance of materials such as wood, stone, gold, and glass in ecclesiastical and other contexts; the roles of matter and materials in the Eucharist, icons, relics, and reliquaries; the rite for consecrating a church; sensory experiences of liturgy; and the neuroscience of viewing icons.

Read a description of the workshop here.

View photos of this event here.

Conference Speakers:

CHARLES BARBER, Professor, Department of Art and Archeology, Princeton University

ROLAND BETANCOURT, Associate Professor, Art History, University of California, Irvine

ANNEMARIE WEYL CARR, Professor Emerita of Art History, Southern Methodist University

BÉATRICE CASEAU-CHEVALLIER, Professor of Byzantine History, Paris-Sorbonne University

HELEN EVANS, Mary and Michael Jaharis Curator of Byzantine Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art

HOLGER KLEIN, Professor, Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University

SEAN LEATHERBURY, Assistant Professor, Art History, Bowling Green State University

VASILEIOS MARINIS, Associate Professor of Christian Art and Architecture, Yale University and Divinity School

LAURA VENESKEY, Assistant Professor of Ancient, Medieval, and Byzantine Art; Department of Art, Wake Forest College

GARY VIKAN, Director of the Walters Art Museum (retired)

ALICIA WILCOX WALKER, Associate Professor, History of Art, Bryn Mawr College

A call for short papers is forthcoming.