Index of Medieval Art

Save the Date for the Fall Index Conference: “Unruly Iconography? Examining the Unexpected in Medieval Art” on November 9, 2024

Ivory chess piece in the form of a queen, British Museum (1831 1101 84) © The British Museum; CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

“Unruly Iconography?” opens a new conversation about medieval images that don’t follow the rules. Its eight speakers will challenge their listeners to rethink the unspoken paradigms that have decided when iconographic motifs should be considered canonical and which are instead “singular,” “exceptional,” or even “mistakes.” They will interrogate the value and limitations of the unspoken binaries that often underlie such labels: tradition versus invention, canon versus exception, or center versus periphery. Their wide-ranging papers will demonstrate the value of a more critically aware, contextually sensitive, and historically informed approach to the study of images and image-making in the Middle Ages.

“Unruly Iconographies?” will take place on November 9, 2024 at the Index of Medieval Art at Princeton University, following the Weitzmann Lecture by Dr. Brigitte Buettner, held on November 8 and hosted by Princeton’s Department of Art & Archaeology. It also constitutes the first of two internationally linked conferences, the second of which will be a site-based seminar at the Center for the Art and Architectural History of Port Cities “La Capraia” in Naples in June 2025, which makes southern Italy a laboratory for exploring the relationships between iconography and place within a geographically expanded Middle Ages.

Speakers for the conference are listed alphabetically below. A schedule and free registration link will be shared on this page in September 2024.

Diliana Angelova (UC Berkeley), “Lawless, Hilarious, Black: Eros and Companions in Byzantium.”

Alexander Brey (Wellesley College), “Iconography Between Empires: The Red Hall at Varakhsha.”

Heidi Gearhart (George Mason University), “A Poem, a Scribe, a Saint, and a Scriptorium: Evoking Multiple Presences in Arras Bibliothèque Municipale MS 860.”

Julie A. Harris (Independent Scholar, Chicago), “Indicate, Illustrate, Decorate, or Comment? Iberian Hebrew Bibles and Their Unruly Paratextual Marks.”

Krisztina Ilko (University of Cambridge), “The Chessmen of the Hunt.”

Nicole C. Paxton (John Cabot University), “Iconographic Innovation and Political Subversion in the Medieval Serbian Akathistos Cycle.”

Patricia Simons (University of Michigan/University of Melbourne), “The Goldfinch: Flights of Fancy.”

Mark H. Summers (University of Arkansas), “Dressed to Impress: Reconsidering Roger II of Sicily and the Iconography of Kingship.”