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Sight, Touch, and Imagination in Byzantium


  • Date Published: April 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108424745

£ 90.00

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About the Authors
  • Considering the interrelations between sight, touch, and imagination, this book surveys classical, late antique, and medieval theories of vision to elaborate on how various spheres of the Byzantine world categorized and comprehended sensation and perception. Revisiting scholarly assumptions about the tactility of sight in the Byzantine world, it demonstrates how the haptic language associated with vision referred to the cognitive actions of the viewer as they grasped sensory data in the mind in order to comprehend and produce working imaginations of objects for thought and memory. At stake is how the affordances and limitations of the senses came to delineate and cultivate the manner in which art and rhetoric was understood as mediating the realities they wished to convey. This would similarly come to contour how Byzantine religious culture could also go about accessing the sacred, the image serving as a site of desire for the mediated representation of the Divine.

    • Proposes a new understanding of theories of vision in the Byzantine world
    • Surveys material from the ancient and medieval Greek worlds
    • Discusses secular and religious, high and low texts
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is a very learned and important book, with significant ramifications for thinking about sight and touch, aesthetics, the cultural history of vision, the historiography of Byzantine art and continuity/shift between the classical world and Byzantium. Betancourt shows better than all previous scholarship how theories of vision/touch grow out of their classical intellectual archaeology.' Jas' Elsner, Humphrey Payne Senior Research Fellow in Classical Art, Corpus Christi College, Oxford

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108424745
    • length: 416 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 160 x 26 mm
    • weight: 0.73kg
    • contains: 3 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Note to the reader
    Introduction: can't touch this
    Part I. How Sight Is Not Touch:
    1. The medium of sight
    2. The problem of tactility
    3. The commonalities of the senses
    Part II. Photios and the Unfolding of Perception: Introduction
    4. Has the mind seen?: the language of effluxes
    5. Has it grasped?: apprehending the object
    6. Has it visualized?, I: the grasp of the imagination
    7. Has it visualized?, II: the problem of fantasy
    8. Then it has effortlessly …: judgment and assent
    Part III. Mediation, Veneration, Remediation:
    9. Medium and mediation
    10. Tactility and veneration
    11. Synaesthesia and remediation
    Conclusion: tempted to touch

  • Author

    Roland Betancourt, University of California, Irvine
    Roland Betancourt is an Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of California, Irvine. In the 2016–2017 academic year, he was the Elizabeth and J. Richardson Dilworth Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He has co-edited Byzantium/Modernism: The Byzantine as Method in Modernity (2015), and is the author of a forthcoming book on the intersectionality of race, sexuality, and gender identity in the medieval world.

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