Graduate Seminar: Theories of Mimesis
Mimesis, Greek for "imitation" has become a key term in recent debates in a number of disciplines. However, what is at its core is often astonishingly undefined, open and ambivalent. Important theories of Mimesis have been articulated in the 20th century by Auerbach, Benjamin, Caillois, Damisch, Genette, Girard, Taussig and others. In this course we will discuss a range of medieval and early modern images and texts in order to understand pre-modern reflections regarding mimesis – as well as in 20th century. Starting with antique and medieval works addressing key moments of mimesis we will also explore modern theories of mimesis. Crossing the threshold between pre-modern and modern examples will help us to understand the premises for the visual culture involving the rise of naturalism, and more generally the nature of representation in medieval and early modern culture. Topics that will be touched on in the course will include medieval, renaissance and early modern visual culture as well as visual and literal exegesis.