14 Mai
17 Mai

Final Judgment: The Mosaic in the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta (Torcello) and its Historical and Social-Religious Contexts


14. Mai 2019 - 17. Mai 2019


Venice International University

Prof. Dr. Daria Pezzoli-Olgiati
Prof. Dr. Andreas Schwab
Prof. Dr. Loren Stuckenbruck
Prof. Dr. Dr. Lorenz Welker Venice International University

The motif of a “Final” or “Last Judgment” has had a long history in socio-religious discourse. Taking the magnificent mosaic of the Last Judgment (13-14th cent.) in the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta on the island of Torcello as point of departure, the seminar will explore this theme. The approach will be interdisciplinary, as reflected both in the specialist expertise of the teaching staff and as to be seen in individual presentations made by the students in attendance.

The Torcello mosaic, which depicts the triumph of Christ over sinners, beginning with the crucifixion scene following the Gospel of John and ending with the Virgin Mary interceding for humanity, not only evokes a phenomenon that is familiar in Christian tradition through literature and works of art, but also reflects deeper human instincts that seek justice in the face of irreparable wrong and reprieve for wrongs within measure. The framework, whether in the ancient or contemporary world, is juridical and presupposes processes (which can be complex) and outcomes (which likewise can be complex). In addition, scenarios of judgment that draw on tradition, in which – as in the Torcellos mosaic – so many characters and supporting motifs command the attention of viewers, are socially constructed, so that assumptions that contribute to the making of one scene so not easily carry over into assumptions brought into the shaping of another.

The seminar, which will be held in a series of sessions involving presentations, discussion, and working groups, will focus on depictions and representations of “judgment” and attendant motifs in multiple religious contexts (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism), as well as attempt to place the Torcellos mosaic in its art-historical (diachronic) and local Venetian context. In addition, the seminar shall consider broad notions of accountability, juridical law, punishment, and socio-political function. The seminar shall pursue this theme through an interdisciplinary approach that takes specialist expertise of teaching staff (religious studies, the ancient classical-Jewish-Christian world, Buddhism-Hindu, and Egyptian thought, musicology, social-scientific approaches) and various levels of research interests among students and early-career academics into account.