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Re-Claiming The Original ‘Degenerate Art’: Disability, Alterity and Byzantine Studies

October 17, 2019 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

The infamous label of ‘degenerate art’ was not conceived in Nazi Germany of the 1930s. A full century earlier such terminology was regularly applied to Byzantine Art in western European stylological scholarship. The art historical field is still shaped by perceptions of the Orthodox world as yet another Other. This lecture analyses the narrative trajectories of Byzantine and ‘Post-Byzantine’ art. In recent decades the discipline has successfully challenged the frameworks imposed upon it by others, but has imposed those same prejudiced frameworks on the nebulous category and chronologically unending entity of ‘Post-Byzantine Art.’ This lecture touches upon alterity, disability, inclusivity and creativity while addressing challenges that still face the field.

Elena N. Boeck is Professor of History of Art at DePaul University and specializes in the arts of the medieval Mediterranean world. A native of Riga, Latvia, she traces her ancestral origins to Romania and Russia. Her recent book Imagining the Byzantine Past: The Perception of History in the Illustrated Manuscripts of Skylitzes and Manasses (Cambridge, 2015) investigates the rise of illustrated histories in the Mediterranean world from the twelfth through the fourteenth centuries and explores the ideological motivations for visualizing Byzanitine history in Sicily and Bulgaria. She is currently completing a trans-historical biography of the most cross-culturally significant Byzantine imperial monument—the bronze horseman of Justinian in Constantinople. In spring 2018 Professor Boeck was appointed Excellence Initiative Professor at Radboud University (Nijmegen, the Netherlands). She also served as the Director of Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks and editor of Dumbarton Oaks papers for academic year 2016-2017.

Reception to follow in the Chazen Lobby. 


October 17, 2019
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm


Chazen Museum of Art
750 University Ave
Madison, WI 53706 United States
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