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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Apocalypse Now and Then Seminar - Mapping the End: Apocalypses in Medieval and Renaissance Cartography

6th December 2010, 17:30, Seminar Room, Institute of Advanced Study, Dr Alessandro Scafi (Warburg Institute, School of Advanced Study, University of London)

This is the fourth seminar in the Apocalypse Now and Then seminar series.

Depictions of apocalypse - understood as revelation and/or the end of the world, in both religious and secular discourses - serve a variety of functions, ranging from the political to the scientific, and the theological to the anthropological. They can reinforce or subvert power structures, interrogate what it is to be human, and figure the future in order to reflect on the present.

This interdisciplinary seminar series brings together experts from a number of disciplines to reflect on two intertwined themes. The first explores the functions served by end-of-world narratives and pictures, that is, it focuses on why apocalyptic stories are told rather than on what particular stories are told. The second analyses the ways in which the apocalyptic is characterized by a relationship with particular sorts of form, language and image, for example, metaphors and fictions, pictures, performances, and poems.

Intellectual and art historians, when dealing with the medieval iconography of the Last Things, do not seem to have paid much attention to world maps. The end of the world is depicted or alluded to on medieval maps in different ways. The visual imagery offered by cartographic material sheds light on the complex conception of time and space that developed in medieval Christianity.

Contact for more information about this event.