University of Cambridge > > Slavonic Studies > Post-Modern Narratives and Pre-Modern Devotion: the Icon of the Three-Handed Mother of God among the Slavs, Dr Elena Boeck

Post-Modern Narratives and Pre-Modern Devotion: the Icon of the Three-Handed Mother of God among the Slavs, Dr Elena Boeck

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The icon of the Three-Handed Mother of God defies many of our expectations concerning stability of form, legibility of imagery, and fixedness of narration. The nature of this representation is such that it undermines icon theory or strains the relationship between the visible and invisible manifestations of divinity. The Virgin’s liminal third hand is iconographically unstable and can materialize either in painted form, as a metal attachment, or as an ambiguous medium. The icon’s biography is similarly unstable. This lecture analyses the permeability of iconographic, narrative and material transmissions of this icon-type in the Slavic world.

Elena N. Boeck (Ph.D., Yale, professor of history of art DePaul University/director of Byzantine studies at Dumbarton Oaks) specializes in the arts of the medieval Mediterranean world. Her first book, Imagining the Byzantine Past: The Perception of History in the Illustrated Manuscripts of Skylitzes and Manasses (Cambridge University Press 2015) investigated the rise of illustrated histories in the Mediterranean world from the twelfth through the fourteenth centuries and explores the ideological motivations for visualizing Byzantine history in Sicily and Bulgaria. She is completing a second book, The Bronze Horseman of Justinian in Constantinople: The Cross-Cultural Biography of a Monument, which explores the changing identities and lasting legacies of this key imperial sculptural monument of Constantinople. It analyses the bronze horseman’s changing cultural signification and the monument’s contribution to discursive constructions of Constantinople by various pre-modern audiences.

This talk is part of the Slavonic Studies series.

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