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CLASSICS 273: Hagia Sophia (ARTHIST 208, ARTHIST 408, CLASSICS 173)

This seminar uncovers the aesthetic principles and spiritual operations at work in Hagia Sophia, the church dedicated to Holy Wisdom in Constantinople. Rather than a static and inert structure, the Great Church emerges as a material body that comes to life when the morning or evening light resurrects the glitter of its gold mosaics and when the singing of human voices activates the reverberant and enveloping sound of its vast interior. Drawing on art and architectural history, liturgy, musicology, and acoustics, this course explores the Byzantine paradigm of animation arguing that it is manifested in the visual and sonic mirroring, in the chiastic structure of the psalmody, and in the prosody of the sung poetry. Together these elements orchestrate a multi-sensory experience that has the potential to destabilize the divide between real and oneiric, placing the faithful in a space in between terrestrial and celestial. A short film on aesthetics and samples of Byzantine chant digitally imprinted with the acoustics of Hagia Sophia are developed as integral segments of this research; they offer a chance for the student to transcend the limits of textual analysis and experience the temporal dimension of this process of animation of the inert.
Terms: Win | Units: 5
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