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Oct. 26: Final fall colloquium features scholar of late medieval Italian art

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

FREDERICK, Md.—A devotional practice commonly represented by religious imagery in paintings of the 13th and 14th centuries will be the topic of a lecture by a distinguished scholar of late medieval Italian art Nov. 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the Whitaker Campus Center at Hood College.

The lecture, part of the college’s annual colloquium series, is funded in part by a National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant.

Joanna Cannon, Ph.D., of the Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London, will discuss how a seemingly minor part of a religious painting or sculpture—the Virgin’s foot—was instead an important part of the image, as it offered a key entry point and focus of devotion for the faithful. Through the works of Sienese artist Duccio di Buoninsegna, one of the major figures of late medieval and early Renaissance painting, she will present evidence for a devotional practice whose history has been largely overlooked.

Cannon is the author of two books, numerous journal articles and a forthcoming study titled “Religious Poverty, Visual Riches: Art in the Dominican Churches of Central Italy in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries.” She served as head of the classical, Byzantine and medieval section of the Courtauld Institute and as chair of the board of examiners.

The colloquium will continue in the spring with a lecture by film scholar Peter Lev; and internationally celebrated abstract painter Sam Gilliam in conversation with filmmaker Rohini Tallala, among others.

This year’s colloquium, themed “The Humanities at Work: How Media Shape Society,” explores the myriad ways in which media have informed and influenced culture and society across the centuries. It looks at the invention of writing in Mesopotamia in 3500 B.C. to the social networks that have come to dominate today’s computers and cell phones, media direct individuals’ interactions with the world and influence their understanding of the past. It also explores the theme from a historical perspective and across disciplines—including music, poetry and the visual arts—promotes an understanding of the impact of the current media-saturated environment on personal identities and on collective society.

The Hood College Center for the Humanities was founded in 1990 by a group of faculty members from the humanities departments at Hood—art, English, foreign languages, history and political science, music, philosophy and religion. During its 20-year existence, the Center for the Humanities has presented lectures, symposia, film series, concerts, poetry readings and colloquia. In 1999, Hood was the recipient of a major challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which helps provide for an annual lecture series and an NEH visiting scholar.

For more information, contact Rebecca Prime, Ph.D., Sophia M. Libman NEH Professor of the Humanities, at