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Seminars and Colloquia

Humanities and Social Sciences

Representing the Apocalypse in the European Middle Ages, variety of motives and implications 
Thu, Mar 08, 2018,   12:00 PM to 01:00 PM at Seminar Room 24 (Main Building)

Élise Haddad de La Morinerie

Starting from a case study of the tympanum in Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, France, 12th Century, we will explore the imagery and deciphering process of mysterious sculpted motifs of the Apocalypse. This will include image comparisons and references to the biblical text, where you can expect to get acquainted with ferocious ten-headed monsters, flowering stars, and frolicking lion-eagle creatures sprouting vegetal tails. This visual and intellectual journey shall lead us to a general interpretation of the whole composition, in terms of semantics, theology, and situated discourse within society: why represent the End of this World? And why do it in this specific and monstrous way? We shall then conclude with an overview of how this study and its findings help document larger historical questions about medieval societies and their cultural evolutions, as well as how it matters as well for a deep understanding of today's societies.

In between teaching French at IISER-Pune, Élise Haddad is finishing a Ph. D. on medieval history, at the EHESS, Paris. She studies some evolutions of medieval societies through its production of pictures. Specifically, her work focuses on lesser understood Apocalyptic sculptures, striving to give them intelligibility and to understand the issues at stake in how some thematics are promoted or discarded along the centuries. For this, she combines methods from the fields of visual studies, history and anthropology, in the tradition and furtherance of the so-called New History, connecting study of non-traditional historical questions and documents with larger-scale, long-term trends. That is: interests that do not lie in traditional questions about political or diplomatic events, and do not focus on the analyses of State-preserved written sources, but instead assemble a number of written and non-written, official and non-official documents, in order to account for the lesser-known, slower-changing life and thought structure of the greater number.