Stacey Blake

 

About

Title of thesis: Admiration or Competition? Byzantine visual culture in western European imperial courts, 497-1002

Supervisor: Professor Leslie Brubaker

Funding: College Scholarship

Qualifications

  • BA Anthropology (University of Western Ontario)
  • MA Art History (Carleton University)

Biography

I am a PhD candidate in Byzantine Studies in the final stages of my degree. My main research interests lie in visual culture and the transmission of iconography from one culture to another.

My previous degrees have fostered an interest in the application of interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks to the study of visual culture.

Doctoral research

PhD title Admiration or Competition? Byzantine visual culture in western European imperial courts, 497-1002
Supervisor Professor Leslie Brubaker
Course Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies PhD/MA by Research (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

Research

For my doctoral research, I reassess previous explanations for the transmission of Byzantine iconography to western works of art that have been classified by the classical canon as being manifestations of a “barbarian” culture, attempting to legitimize their fledgling culture through the implementation of Byzantine tropes.  The tumultuous relationship between the east and the west during the Late Antique period to the middle Byzantine period and the subsequent visual culture that demonstrates cross-cultural exchange comprises the majority of my analysis.  Although this topic has been discussed at considerable length by many prominent scholars, I contribute to the existing body of scholarship by presenting a re-reading of the topic and thereby providing a deeper, interdisciplinary explanation for cross-cultural transmission in the visual arts.

Beginning with Theodoric in the fifth century and covering other rulers such as Charlemagne and the three Ottos, my dissertation focuses on cultures that were in direct competition with Byzantium and the material culture linked to imperial (royal) patronage or content produced by those cultures.  The title of Holy Roman Emperor (or equivalent) was one that was highly sought after by both eastern and western rulers alike.  Ordained by God, Holy Roman Emperor held dominion over vast tracts of land and many different groups of people.   Consequently, these disparate cultural groups began to employ a common visual language that transcended language barriers and spoke of power and divine authority. 

An implication of this study is that art was an active participant in the relationship between the east and the west, serving as a communicative device, rather than as the more frequently cited passive role of a conduit for iconographical transmission or cultural legitimization.  Therefore, visual culture that demonstrated syncretic features could indicate an attempt to avoid conflict, or even indicate a pre-cursor to conflict.

Other activities

Teaching
Past courses taught:

  • History of Architecture
  • Art History: Pre-History to the Renaissance
  • Medieval Art History
  • From Parthenon to Gallipoli: Monuments and memory in the east Mediterranean
  • Byzantium and the Transformation of the Roman World c.300-900

Conferences

  • July 2010:                  “Postcolonising the Medieval Image” Postgraduate Workshop, held at Leeds University, Leeds U.K.
  • February 2010:        “Context and Meaning” Graduate Conference, held at Queen’s University, Kingston Ontario
  • March 2010:             “Underhill Graduate Colloquium” held at Carleton University, Ottawa Ontario
  • May 2011:                 Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies Annual Spring Symposium, Birmingham, U.K.
  • February 2012:        Institute for Archaeology and Antiquity Post Graduate Forum, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, U.K.
  • May 2012:                 Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies Annual Spring Symposium, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, U.K.
  • July 2012:                  International Medieval Congress, Leeds University, Leeds, U.K.
  • February 2013:        Canadian Conference of Medieval Art Historians, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.
  • May 2013:                 Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies Annual Spring Symposium, Birmingham, U.K.
  • June 2013:                 ‘Speaking in Tongues: Language, Communication and Power in the Middle Ages.’  University of London, London U.K.

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