Roman imperial rule and its visual culture were half a millennium old, and visual traditions older still were in its care around the Mediterranean world, 313 when Constantine the Great inaugurated a Christian Empire and made a New Rome in his own name, Constantinopolis. That emperor and his subjects still cared passionately to maintain Roman imperial civilization against barbarians without, chaos within, while beginning to make a visual language for the new public face of Christianity. Between ca. 200 and 700 A,D. Greco-Roman art culture was sometimes cherished, sometimes radically transformed, to create the Medieval, Byzantine and Islamic visual traditions. We look at esthetic experimentation and socio-political expression, and listen to the historians, prelates, poets, philosophers, nobles and novelists who argued Late Antique art into being. We watch the vitality of classical styles and pagan beliefs, and the creative energy of "other" traditions - Irano-mesopotamian, Egyptian, Arabic, Jewish, Frankish, etc. This proseminar exposes students to a range of media and art contexts: the decoration of sacred, imperial and civic space with old and new commemorative art forms and histories; sarcophagi and portraits, arches and coins, mosaics, frescoes, luxury arts like silverware, textiles, ivory, and painted books; the artistic images of Old and New Rome; palaces, gardened villas, and imperial capitals from Trier and Ravenna to Antioch and Damascus.
Registration: 20. Open to undergraduates by permission
of the instructor [to meet, email email@example.com]. No prerequisites.
Of especial interest to students in ArtH, AncH, AAMW, ClSt, RelSt, JewishSt,
AMES, Hist, Phil, Anthro.