Senses and Sensibility in Byzantium

James, Liz (2004) Senses and Sensibility in Byzantium. Art History, 27 (4). pp. 522-537. ISSN 0141-6790

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Byzantine art tends to be considered in almost exclusively visual terms. However, Byzantine writings about works of art appeal to all the senses and aim to involve the listener (who may also be looking at the object described) in an emotional engagement with the image and with the scene it depicts. This paper explores some of the ways in which the five physical senses were engaged in the overall sensory experience of worship in a Byzantine church, notably Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, discussing how the senses seem to have played spiritual as much as physical roles in the church. The Byzantines do not appear to have perceived the interaction between the senses as synaesethic, but rather as an interlinking and an interplay. This emphasis on the sensory nature of images suggests a corporeal dimension to religious experience, offering the human body an intrinsic role in the worship of the divine.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > Art History
Depositing User: Liz James
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:15
Last Modified: 31 May 2012 08:17
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