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Lecture: The Amusement of Power and the Power of Amusement in Byzantium

February 5, 2015
Fullerton Hall
Free with museum admission

This lecture explores the wide-ranging power of spectacle in Byzantine court politics. Join Dr. Elena Boeck as she highlights the range of functions performed by court entertainers and Hippodrome competitors: from impressing foreign dignitaries, to eliciting imperial laughter, to celebrating imperial monuments of Constantinople. 

By closely analyzing visual and textual evidence this lecture reveals the extensive opportunities offered by the power of amusement and probes the multifaceted roles of spectacle in statecraft and diversion.

Associate Professor of Art History at DePaul University Elena Boeck 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 will be published this summer from Cambridge University Press. She is the consulting curator for the exhibition Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Byzantine. Scenes from the Life of Alexander the Great (detail) from the Romance of Alexander the Great, 14th century.