The Getty Center
Date: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Time: 7:00 p.m.

The vice presidential debate will be broadcasted on screen in the Museum Lecture Hall from 6 p.m. until shortly before the start of the lecture.

Location: Museum Lecture Hall
Past Event

The Presentation in the Temple / Unknown
 
Caroline Walker Bynum, professor emerita of Western medieval history at the Institute for Advanced Study, questions theories that religion resides in a human need to see the world as anthropomorphic, thus challenging the conception both of the holy and of objects such theories imply.

Some recent work by anthropologists, scholars of comparative religion, and art historians suggests that devotional images such as Hindu gods and goddesses, Christian icons and panel paintings, and ancient statues and stele tend to be or become sacred because of a human need to see the world as not only animate but even anthropomorphic. Using some material from other religions for comparison but concentrating on the full range of objects taken in the Christian Middle Ages to be holy, Bynum seeks to complicate both the understanding of the holy and the understanding of objects such analysis implies, showing both that it is the non-iconic and non-anthropomorphic that is most apt to be taken (in theory and in practice) as literally the sacred and that responses to images are more complex than some recent psychological theories would suggest.

Complements the exhibition The Art of Devotion in the Middle Ages.

Learn more about our Getty Perspectives Series and see past events.


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