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Brown Bag Lunch with Dana Katz, BGC Visiting Scholar 2021–22

Tuesday, October 12, 12:15–1:15 pm on Zoom

Dana Katz will deliver a Brown Bag Lunch presentation entitled “Islamic Palaces in a Christian Land? The Royal Park Residences and Pavilions in the Twelfth-Century Norman Kingdom of Sicily.”

From their capital Palermo, the Norman rulers controlled a vast kingdom in the mid-twelfth century that stretched across southern Italy, the island of Sicily, and coastal Tunisia, with a diverse population of Muslims, Christians, and Jews. In the scholarly literature, they are renowned for their ecclesiastical building and programmatic mosaic cycles based on Byzantine models. The talk will consider another corpus of buildings, the palaces and pavilions located in the royal parklands just outside Palermo. These monuments are rarely discussed in most overviews of the artistic and architectural production of the medieval kingdom of Sicily. Katz will explore the reasons for their exclusion, among which is that they do not seem to fit into existing disciplinary paradigms of Western medieval art history for monuments commissioned by Christian kings. This is because they were built entirely in what could be termed an Islamic mode, and thus they cannot be considered “hybrid” monuments. The latter interpretation has been made by some scholars in reference to key works in the royal Norman sphere, denoting the supposed syncretism of their rule and even tolerance toward the multi-faith population. The talk will include recent findings in Palermo and on the island that illuminate the preceding period of Islamic rule, while also considering comparative monuments to the Sicilian parkland palaces elsewhere in the twelfth-century Mediterranean. The ultimate aim is to demonstrate that these secular buildings in the human-modified landscapes on the periphery of medieval Palermo were central to the formulation of Norman kingship and are rich in cultural significance and meaning.

Dana Katz received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and her PhD from the Department of Art History at the University of Toronto. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Haifa Center for Mediterranean History and held a Lady Davis Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research has been supported by the Fulbright Foundation, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Medieval Academy of America (Olivia Remie Constable Award), and Garden and Landscape Studies at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. She has participated in international seminars organized by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London and funded by the Getty Foundation, as well as the Bibliotheca Hertziana–Max Planck Institute for Art History. She is currently working on a monograph on a historical landscape in the medieval Mediterranean, the royal parklands of the twelfth-century Norman kings of Sicily, which she will be completing this year at BGC. Her work has been published in the Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in FlorenzConvivium: Exchanges and Interactions in the Arts of Medieval Europe, Byzantium, and the Mediterranean, and most recently in the International Journal of Islamic Architecture. In addition to specializing in medieval Sicily, her research interests include Islamic art and architecture, Crusader art, museology, and the formation of modern collections of Islamic and medieval art.

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The Indigenous Arts in Transition Seminar with Heather Igloliorte, University Research Chair at Concordia University 

Wednesday, October 13, 12:15–1:15 pm on Zoom

Heather Igloliorte will present a talk entitled, “Visiting INUA: Curating the Inaugural Exhibition of the New Inuit Art Centre, Qaumajuq.”

In this seminar, Inuk scholar and curator Dr. Heather Igloliorte will discuss the processes, motivations, insights, and Indigenous epistemologies and ontologies that informed the creation and installation of the first exhibition of the new international Inuit Art Centre, Qaumajuq, which opened at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in March of 2021. INUA, which refers to spirit or life force and is also an acronym for Inuit Nunangat Ungammuaktut Atautikkut or ‘Inuit Moving Forward Together,’ is the result of a large-scale collaboration with not only an exceptional team of emerging curators, artists, and academics, but also with numerous other Inuit and Inuvialuit who contributed to the development of the exhibition. The exhibition is a ground-breaking survey of contemporary Inuit art from Alaska, Canada, and Greenland—or Inuit Nunaat—which features over one hundred works made by more than 90 artists in diverse media ranging from sound and video, painting, textile work, wearable art, installation, sculpture, and more.

Dr. Heather Igloliorte (Inuk and Newfoundlander, Nunatsiavut) is the University Research Chair in circumpolar indigenous arts at Concordia University in Tiohtiá:ke/ Montreal, where she co-directs the Indigenous Futures Research Centre and directs Inuit Futures in Arts Leadership: The Pilimmaksarniq / Pijariuqsarniq Project (2018–25), an initiative that supports Inuit and Inuvialuit postsecondary students to explore professional career paths in all aspects of the arts. Igloliorte’s research focuses on Inuit and other circumpolar Indigenous art histories, material and new media art practices, critical Indigenous museology, and curatorial studies. She publishes frequently on Indigenous art and curatorial practice and has been a curator for sixteen years. Igloliorte is the president of the Board of the Inuit Art Foundation; she also serves as the co-chair of the Indigenous Circle for the Winnipeg Art Gallery; is on the board of directors for the Native North American Art Studies Association; and sits on the faculty council of the Otsego Institute for Native American Art History at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York, among others.

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The Seminar in Epistemologies of Material Culture with John Tresch, Warburg Institute, University of London

Thursday, October 14, 12:15–1:15 pm on Zoom

John Tresch will present a talk entitled, “Edgar Allan Poe on the Furniture of the Universe.”

This talk draws on Tresch’s recent book, The Reason for the Darkness of the Night: Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging of American Science. It reflects on Poe’s approach to material culture of various kinds, from technologies of print, experiment, and display, to the objects of interior design. Poe’s sensibility was shaped by the explosive rise of mechanical industry and popular culture as well as the unsettled state of science in antebellum America. His attention to the spiritual effects of material compositions resonates with the slippery materialism of his natural philosophy.

John Tresch
 teaches at the Warburg Institute, University of London. Trained in anthropology and history of science at the University of Chicago, Cambridge University, and the ENS-Paris, he taught in the department of history and sociology of science at the University of Pennsylvania from 2005 to 2018. He is editor of the History of Anthropology Review and author of The Romantic Machine: Utopian Science and Technology after Napoleon, which won the 2013 Pfizer Prize from the History of Science Society.

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The Global Middle Ages Seminar with Youn-mi Kim, Ewha Womans University 

Tuesday, October 19, 12:15–1:15 pm on Zoom

Youn-mi Kim will present a talk entitled, “Cross-Cultural Transformation of Buddhist Talismans from Medieval China to Korea.”

Based on materials excavated from inside Buddhist statues and tombs, this talk explores Buddhist talismans from medieval Korea. Recently a growing number of scholars have shown an interest in talismans used in Buddhist contexts. Buddhist talismans from medieval Korea, however, remain unknown, to say nothing of their connections to manuscripts discovered from the distant Dunhuang caves in China. Through an exploration of Korean Buddhist talismans, this talk traces a hybrid practice that interweaves Buddhism and Daoism, arguing that such hybrid talisman practices formed part of a large network that spanned western China and the Korean peninsula. Surprisingly similar types of talismans were used from tenth century Dunhuang to thirteenth century Korea. At the same time, the efficacy of each talisman reveals considerable modification which continuously changed according to the needs of local populations in different periods and regions. This talk is based on a joint study with Professor Paul Copp and Venerable Jeonggak.

Youn-mi Kim is associate professor in the Department of History of Art at Ewha Womans University. Before joining the Ewha faculty, Kim served as assistant professor in the Department of the History of Art at Yale University (2012–16) and The Ohio State University (2011–12), and was a postdoctoral associate at the Council on East Asian Studies at Yale University (2010–11). Kim is a specialist in Chinese Buddhist art, but her broader interest in the cross-cultural relationships between art and ritual extends to Korean and Japanese materials as well. She is particularly interested in symbolic rituals in which an architectural space serves as a material agent; the interplay between visibility and invisibility in Buddhist art; and the sacred spaces and religious macrocosms created by religious architecture for imaginary pilgrimages. She is the editor of New Perspectives on Early Korean Art: From Silla to Koryŏ (Cambridge, MA: Korea Institute, Harvard University, 2013). Her articles have appeared in the Journal of Song-Yuan Studies, Religions, International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture, as well as art history journals. Based on archaeological data from a medieval Chinese pagoda and medieval ritual manuals, she is currently completing two book manuscripts.

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The Paul and Irene Hollister Lecture on Glass with Vera Keller, University of Oregon

Tuesday, October 19, 6–7:30 pm on Zoom

Vera Keller will deliver a presentation entitled, “Hyalomania: Early Modern Glass Research between the Disciplines.” Keller will be the Scholar-in-Residence at BGC during the week of October 18–22, 2021.

As one writer confessed in 1685, he and his peers had fallen prey to hyalomania, or a glass craze. Hyalomaniacs were scholars obsessed with researching many properties of glass, such as its flexibility, porosity, malleability, or the unusual ways in which it could break (such as with the mere sound of a human voice). Glass came under such scrutiny during a period when the power of human art to compete with nature was a major topic of debate. The making of sparkling glass out of crude, friable ingredients like sand and ash almost proved the human ability to perfect nature, except that glass was fragile. Through glass, humans came as close as they could to perfection, only to have those ambitions shatter in the ultimate symbol of vanity. This was why so many utopias of the period that imagined stronger, brighter, more powerful human civilizations boasted malleable or unbreakable glass. This was also why hyalomaniacs spilled so much ink investigating the possibility of rendering glass malleable, which, alongside turning lead into gold, was one of the vaunted powers of the philosophers’ stone. Erudite and craft traditions were merged in the study of glass using new, interlinked research tools and platforms including wish lists or research agendas, journal articles, academic seminars, and archaeological digs. By exploring how hyalomonia integrated varied forms of knowledge, this lecture shows how glass became a shared focus of attention spanning varied geographies, communities of expertise, and emergent scientific disciplines. It asks what difference it makes when an object, even an imagined one like unbreakable glass, serves as the subject of inquiry.

Vera Keller, associate professor at the University of Oregon, is a historian of science, technology, and knowledge more broadly of early modern Europe. She is the author of Knowledge and the Public Interest, 1575–1725 (Cambridge, 2015) and Interlopers: Early Stuart Projects and the Undisciplining of Knowledge (under review). Additionally, she has published over forty articles and essays and has co-edited volumes on the history of collecting in archives and museums. This year, as a Guggenheim fellow, she is completing a book tentatively entitled, Curating the Enlightenment: Johann Daniel Major (1634–1693) and the Experimental Century.

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All events will be held via Zoom. A link will be circulated to registrants on the day of the event. All events will be live with automatic captions.