Location: Bowdoin / Calendar


Beauty and the Eye of the Beholder by Sara Lipton (Assoc Prof. of History, SUNY Stony Brook)

  • 10/11/2012 | 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
  • Location: Visual Arts Center, Beam Classroom
  • Event Type: Lecture

Beauty and the Eye of the Beholder by Sara Lipton (Assoc Prof. of History, SUNY Stony Brook)This lecture offers a new chronology and explanation for the introduction of anti-Jewish imagery into Christian art in the Middle Ages. It argues that the creation of dark, grotesque, and scowling Jewish figures is not, as so often been assumed, a reflection of rising anti-Semitism. Rather, the iconography grows out of changing Christian religious culture. As Christian devotions became more affective and artists began to depict the Crucified Christ as dying or dead, Christians were forced to ponder the nature of divine beauty and struggle with the indignity of divine suffering. Failure to be properly moved by portrayals of Christ's affliction was identified with "Jewish" superficial and materialistic ways of looking, and depictions of Jews exaggerated their defiance and hostility in order to provide a counter-model for Christian seeing. But if the imagery was not inspired by ethnic hatred, it acted powerfully to help create it.