Panizzi Lecture – Poetry Play Persuasion: The Diagrammatic Imagination in Medieval Art and Thought

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The final of the three lectures by Jeffrey F. Hamburger on diagrams in medieval art and thought.

This event will take place at the British Library. It will be simultaneously live streamed on the British Library platform. Tickets may be booked either to attend in person (physical), or to watch on our platform (online) either live or within 48 hours on catch up. Viewing links will be sent out shortly before the event.

Poetry and play are probably the last words that come to mind when most of us think about diagrams.

Throughout the Middle Ages, however, and beyond, diagrammatic techniques provided the underpinning for practices informing complex aesthetic procedures in poetry and the visual arts. Although associated with the rigours of reasoning, diagrams also possessed a playful dimension central to artistic as well as intellectual invention.

Just as diagrams play a critical role in modern game theory, so too in medieval culture, diagrams incorporated a playful element that sought to unify text with image, clarity with complexity, and simplicity with difficulty.

Medieval games themselves were often conceptualised in terms of diagrams. Whereas in modern understandings, medieval art is often associated with the monstrous, viewing it against the backdrop of the diagram permits one to see this aspect as but one side of a coin – the other side of which represents a profound pursuit of order.

This lecture will be followed by a drinks reception for all attendees.

The Panizzi Lecture series 2022 is given by Jeffrey F. Hamburger, Kuno Francke Professor of German Art & Culture, Harvard University.

Find out more information about the Panizzi Lectures series.

2022 Series Introduction – Drawing Conclusions: Diagrams in Medieval Art and Thought

Diagrams constitute an omnipresent feature of medieval art and thought. From Antiquity onwards, the forms and procedures of geometric reasoning held a privileged place in the pursuit of truth, the understanding of which remained closely linked to ideals of beauty and perfection.

Drawing on the collections of the British Library, whose holdings provide virtually comprehensive coverage of all ramifications of the diagrammatic tradition, this series of lectures examines the practical, theoretical and aesthetic dimensions of medieval diagrams as matrices of meaning and patterns of thought informing diverse areas of medieval culture.

Jeffrey F. Hamburger's research focuses on the art of the High and later Middle Ages. He is the Kuno Francke Professor of German Art & Culture at Harvard University. Beginning with his dissertation on the Rothschild Canticles (Yale, 1987), his scholarship has focused on the art of female monasticism, culminating in an international exhibition Krone und Schleier (Crown and Veil), 2005. Professor Hamburger holds a B.A. and Ph.D. in Art History from Yale University. He previously held teaching positions at Oberlin College, University of Toronto and has been a guest professor in Zurich, Paris, Oxford and Fribourg.

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Name: Panizzi Lecture – Poetry Play Persuasion: The Diagrammatic Imagination in Medieval Art and Thought
Where: Entrance Hall
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Free Event: £0.00
Online Free Event: £0.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546
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