Popular descriptions of Byzantium often emphasize the mystical and immaterial while overlooking the mediating role of matter implied by the Christian belief in the incarnation. At the same time, scholars have historically prioritized questions of form, iconography, and meaning in their study of Byzantine art and architecture. But as technology makes the human experience ever more digital and effectively immaterial, scholars across numerous disciplines—including Byzantine studies—have begun reconsidering the significance of matter and materiality.

“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 in September 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.


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

ROLAND BETANCOURT, Assistant 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

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

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