Murray Seminars on Medieval and Renaissance Art at Birkbeck, Summer 2016

bern_muensterAll seminars are held at 5pm in the Keynes Library at Birkbeck’s School of Arts (Room 114, 43, Gordon Sq., London, WC1H OPD). A break at 5.50pm is followed by discussion and refreshments.

22 April
Bernd Nicolai: Modes of Artistic Expression and Representation. The facade of Bern Minster and fifteenth-century church building programmes in imperial cities

Bernd Nicolai examines the late-gothic west facade of Bern Minster and its extraordinary sculpted portal featuring scenes of the Last Judgement, considering the power of change in this and other church-building programmes in imperial cities during the fifteenth century.

1 June
Clare Vernon: Pseudo-Arabic in Medieval Southern Italy
Pseudo-Arabic script appears in both Islamic and Christian Mediterranean art in the central Middle Ages. Clare Vernon examines the use of pseudo-Arabic motifs in the region of Puglia in southeast Italy over the course of the eleventh century. Focussing attention on the mysterious pavement in the basilica of San Nicola in Bari she explores how the script-like motif relates to Bari’s role as capital of the Byzantine provinces in Italy.

29 June
Laura Slater: Talking Back to Power? Art and Political Opinion in Early Fourteenth-Century England.

‘Spin’ and reputation management were an established part of medieval politics. Laura Slater explores the role of art and architecture in challenging political ideas and opinions in early fourteenth-century England, focussing on the activities of Queen Isabella of France during the 1320s. Successful in invading England, deposing her husband Edward II and establishing herself as de facto regent in place of her teenaged son, Edward III, Isabella managed to use art and architecture to present herself as a loving, loyal and virtuous wife. Yet the queen’s subjects may still have ‘talked back to her’ responding to these PR efforts in a similarly public and permanent setting.

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