Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Illuminating 'Openings': Harvard Art Historian Visits Washington College

Chestertown, MD — A Harvard University art historian who is one of the nation's leading authorities on medieval religious art in general and illuminated manuscripts in particular is to make a special appearance at Washington College. Jeffrey Hamburger, the Kuno Francke Professor of German Art and Culture at Harvard University, will present "Openings" at Washington College's Casey Academic Center Forum on Monday, October 6, at 7:30 p.m.

In an age of mechanical, and now virtual, reproduction, we have perhaps lost sight of the basic visual unit that structures our experience of the medieval book: the opening. From the origins of codex as a medium in late antiquity, and in contrast to the scrolls used in the ancient world, the confrontation of the verso and recto pages provided the visual field within which scribes and illuminators operated. Openings also made possible the visible elaboration of the word with figurated initials, frames and full-page miniatures.

Professor Hamburger, who in his talk will explore the intricacies and evolution of this book-based artistic medium, holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, has held teaching positions at Oberlin College and the University of Toronto, and has been a guest professor at the Universities of Zurich, Paris and Oxford. His 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 toward imagery and visual experience, and German vernacular religious writing of the Middle Ages, particularly in the context of mysticism.

Beginning with his dissertation on the Rothschild Canticles (Yale, 1987), much of Hamburger's 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, and a study of narrative imagery in late medieval German prayer books.

Hamburger has been published widely in the relevant scholarly journals and is the author of numerous books as well, including The Mind's Eye: Art and Theological Argument in the Medieval West, co-edited with Anne-Marie Bouché (Princeton University Press, 2005); The Visual and the Visionary: Art and Female Spirituality in Late Medieval Germany (Zone Books, 1998); Nuns as Artists: The Visual Culture of a Medieval Convent (University of California Press, 1996); and The Rothschild Canticles: Art and Mysticism in Flanders and the Rhineland circa 1300 (Yale University Press, 1990).

Hamburger's October 6 lecture at Washington College is presented by the Department of Art and Art History, the Gender Studies Program and the German Studies Program. Admission to "Openings" is free and open to the public.

September 23, 2008

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