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This volume offers an overview of Byzantine manuscript illustration, a central branch of Byzantine art and culture. Just like written texts, illustrations bear witness to Byzantine material culture, imperial ideology and religious beliefs, as well as to the development and spread of Byzantine art. In this sense illustrated books reflect the society that produced and used them. Being portable, they could serve as diplomatic gifts or could be acquired by foreigners. In such cases they became “emissaries” of Byzantine art and culture in Western Europe and the Arabic world.
The volume provides for the first time a comprehensive overview of the material, divided by text categories, including both secular and religious manuscripts, and analyses which texts were illustrated in Byzantium, and how.
Contributors are Justine M. Andrews, Leslie Brubaker, Annemarie W. Carr, Elina Dobrynina, Maria Evangelatou, Maria Laura Tomea Gavazzoli, Markos Giannoulis, Cecily Hennessy, Ioli Kalavrezou, Maja Kominko, Sofia Kotzabassi, Stavros Lazaris, Kallirroe Linardou, Vasileios Marinis, Kathleen Maxwell, Georgi R. Parpulov, Nancy P. Ševčenko, Jean-Michel Spieser, Mika Takiguchi, Courtney Tomaselli, Marina Toumpouri, Nicolette S. Trahoulia, Vasiliki Tsamakda, and Elisabeth Yota.
Mouradgea d’Ohsson’s Tableau général de l’Empire othoman offered the Enlightenment Republic of Letters its most authoritative work on Islam and the Ottomans, also a practical reference work for kings and statesmen. Profusely illustrated and opening deep insights into illustrated book production in this period, this is also the richest collection of visual documentation on the Ottomans in a hundred years. Shaped by the author’s personal struggles, the work yet commands recognition in its own totality as a monument to inter-cultural understanding. In form one of the great taxonomic works of Enlightenment thought, this is a work of advocacy in the cause of reform and amity among France, Sweden, and the Ottoman Empire.

Reading Catechisms, Teaching Religion makes two broad arguments. First, the sixteenth century witnessed a fundamental transformation in Christians’, Catholic and Evangelical, conceptualization of the nature of knowledge of Christianity and the media through which that knowledge was articulated and communicated. Christians had shared a sense that knowledge might come through visions, images, liturgy; catechisms taught that knowledge of ‘Christianity’ began with texts printed on a page. Second, codicil catechisms sought not simply to dissolve the material distinction between codex and person, but to teach catechumens to see specific words together as texts. The pages of catechisms were visual—they confound precisely that constructed modern bipolarity, word/image, or, conversely, that modern bipolarity obscures what sixteenth-century catechisms sought to do.