TitleThe Borders of Heaven and Earth
Date/TimeTuesday 5 July 2022: 16.30-18.00
OrganiserIMC Programming Committee
Moderator/ChairJessica Varsallona, Department of Continuing Education, University of Oxford
Paper 812-a 'Why stand you looking up to heaven?': Corporeal and Spiritual Vision and the Ascension in Literature of the Late Middle Ages
(Language: English)
Millicent-Rose Newis, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge
Index Terms: Art History - Painting; Language and Literature - Middle English; Performance Arts - Drama; Theology
Paper 812-b The Unoccupied Throne: A Byzantine Eschatological Border Post
(Language: English)
Patrick Martin, Department of Philosophy, Religions & Liberal Arts, University of Winchester
Index Terms: Art History - General; Byzantine Studies; Theology
Paper 812-c Space and Boundaries in an Illuminated Manuscript of the Heavenly Ladder (Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. gr. 394)
(Language: English)
Karin Krause, Divinity School, University of Chicago, Illinois
Index Terms: Art History - Painting; Byzantine Studies; Manuscripts and Palaeography; Sermons and Preaching
AbstractPaper -a:
This paper approaches the theme of 'Borders' by examining medieval representations of Christ's Ascension: the crossing of the border between earth and heaven. My study draws on a diverse and relatively sparse body of materials, which stretches across art, poetry, prose and drama, to explore how people in the later Middle Ages responded to the problematic doctrine of the Ascension. While other Christological events are often associated with a formulaic way of representation, there is no clear affective response to Christ's Ascension across late-medieval literature. I argue that this is indicative of the nature of the Ascension itself, which, even in the Bible, is shown to raise issues of representation and to frustrate interpretations assigned by customs and conventions.

Paper -b:
In Middle Byzantine Last Judgement images, the unoccupied throne or Hetoimasia symbolises the border between heaven and earth, the human and the divine, and between Paradise and Hell, the saved and the damned. The unoccupied throne motif is first found around 400 CE and is still in use in Orthodox iconography today. It has, however, been largely neglected in the scholarly literature: the last overall survey of the Byzantine material dates from 1963. This paper seeks to understand the role of the Hetoimasia in Last Judgement iconography by placing it within an integrated survey of the motif from the 4th to the 13th centuries.

Paper -c:
Byzantine manuscripts have largely been ignored by scholarly scrutiny inspired by the 'spatial turn'. Yet it was the parchment page that invited manifold pictorial experiments visualising complex spatial relations to complement the text's reasoning. This paper's focus is on an 11th-century manuscript of the Heavenly Ladder by John Climacus, a treatise on monastic virtues and vices. I analyse different approaches of the painter to the defining of distinct realms on the page by conceiving painted borders either as barriers or thresholds. The 'void' of the margins is semantically charged, being populated by figures who were - quite literally - left out of the picture.