Benjamin Anderson: Cosmogony: The Beholder's Share
We are accustomed to consider medieval images of the constellations as bearers of knowledge, and can then debate what kind of knowledge they carry – understanding of the phenomena, or familiarity with a self-sufficient tradition? This talk proposes that the images in certain ninth-century manuscripts function not solely as bearers of knowledge, but also as inducements to thought: prompts to the formation of composite mental images from which more can be learned than from the individual images viewed separately. Viewed in this light, the manuscripts speak not so much to the Christianization of the pagan, as to the subjectivization of the objective.
Benjamin Anderson is Assistant Professor of the History of Art, Cornell University. He studies the visual and material cultures of the eastern Mediterranean and adjacent landmasses, with a particular focus on late antique and Byzantine art and architecture. His first book, Cosmos and Community in Early Medieval Art (Yale University Press, 2017), received the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award of the College Art Association. The second, The Tragic Image: Fate and Form from Byzantium to the Baroque, will address the "Oracles of Leo the Wise" and related oracular images. He publishes regularly on the history of archaeology and the urban history of Constantinople. Anderson was David E. Finley Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art (2009-12); and has received fellowships from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, and the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut. He currently serves on the Governing Board of the Byzantine Studies Association of North America.