ICMA at The Courtauld Lecture 2015/16

Series made possible through the generosity of William M. Voelkle

Wednesday 24 February 2016
17.30, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre
The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN

Lawrence Nees (Professor of Medieval Art & Department Chair, Department of Art History, University of Delaware)

Reading and Seeing: The Beginnings of Book Illumination and the Modern Discourse on Ethnicity

Much attention has been paid to the change of books from roll to codex form, largely accomplished by the fourth and fifth centuries, and the impact of this change on the illustration of books. However, for some centuries the form of writing in the new codex format changed relatively little, and another change, arguably as significant, is associated with the seventh and eighth centuries, with books beginning to adopt multiple scripts displaying a hierarchy, spaces between words, punctuation, and decorative embellishment with illuminations of various sorts. The new kind of books, and readers, are strongly associated with monasticism, as has of course been noted before, but for a variety of reasons scholars have not explored the interactions between writing, illumination, and reading in depth. Instead, a powerful strand of scholarly tradition, especially in the Anglophone world, has linked illumination with “barbarian” traditions, an approach that deserves challenge and reconsideration.

Open to all, free admission

Lecture followed by a reception sponsored by Sam Fogg

Lawrence Nees has taught at the University of Delaware since 1978, where he is Professor and Chair in the Department of Art History. His books include The Gundohinus Gospels, A Tainted Mantle: Hercules and the Classical Tradition at the Carolingian Court, Early Medieval Art, and the just-published Perspectives on Early Islamic Art in Jerusalem. He served from 2003-2009 on the international Advisory Committee for the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries Renovation Project at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and was recently President of the International Center of Medieval Art.

This lecture is presented by The Courtauld Institute of Art in association with the International Center of Medieval Art, New York, and with the support of The Courtauld Institute of Art's Research Forum.

Local arrangements: Joanna Cannon, The Courtauld Institute of Art