Cecily Hilsdale on Barlaam and Ioasaph and Mondialisation
The final talk of the Mary Jaharis Center’s 2015–2016 Lecture Series was delivered by Cecily J. Hilsdale, Associate Professor of Medieval Art and Architecture in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University in Montreal, on May 4, 2016. In her lecture titled “Worldliness in Byzantium and Beyond: Manuscript Materiality and Byzantine Materialism,” Professor Hilsdale discussed the many medieval versions of Barlaam and Ioasaph, a tale based loosely on the life of the Buddha and one of the most popular romances of the medieval world. She looked briefly at the Arabic, Georgian, Greek, and Latin textual traditions before turning to a discussion of illuminated Byzantine manuscripts illustrating the Barlaam and Ioasaph text and the possible source material used by Byzantine artists in creating a visual program for the tale. Dr. Hilsdale then considered Byzantine adaptations to the tale—that is, a stress on spiritual edification and worldly renunciation—and the role of Byzantine monastic networks in disseminating the text, particularly at the beginning of the thirteenth century.
The Mary Jaharis Center Lecture Series is co-sponsored by Harvard University Standing Committee on Medieval Studies.