Portraiture in Visual and Literary Culture

September 30 – October 2, 2021 

Locations: Classics Building: 1010 E. 59th St. (please use the entrance under the archway).
CWAC: 5540 S. Greenwood Ave. 

The symposium is open to the public, and attendance is free of charge. No RSVP is needed. We will gather in person (no Zoom links will be distributed). Organizers: Karin Krause, Marion Meyer, Claudia Rapp, and Lioba Theis

All symposium attendees must follow the university’s COVID-19 guidelines and safety precautions (https://goforward.uchicago.edu/). Please bring your own mask. People who require social distancing accommodations should contact krause[at]uchicago.edu.

Thursday, September 30

5:00 – 6:20 PM Department of Classics (Classics Building, Room 21): 

Keynote Lecture by Marion Meyer University of Vienna, Department of Classical Archaeology: What Do Portraits Want? What Do People Want When They Call Images “Portraits”?
The Department of Classics will host a reception after the lecture.

Friday, October 1 Department of Art History (CWAC 157)

9:30 – 10:00 Coffee & Pastries (Art History Lounge, CWAC 161)

10:00 – 10:05 Opening Remarks Niall Atkinson, Chair, Department of Art History
10:05 – 10:15 Introduction Karin Krause (University of Chicago, Divinity School)

Session 1: Portrait and Remembrance
Chair: Marion Meyer

  • 10:15 – 11:00 Seth Estrin (University of Chicago, Dept. of Art History) The Portrait and the Funerary Monument in Classical Athens
  • 11:00 – 11:45 Christopher Allison (Dominican University, McGreal Center) The Lingering Face: Classical and Medieval Echoes in Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Portraiture
  • 11:45 – 1:30


Session 2: Divine Portraits
Chair: Jonathan Lyon

  • 1:30 – 2:15 Jeffrey Stackert (University of Chicago, Divinity School) The Divine Image as Portrait in Pentateuchal Priestly Thought
  •  2:15 – 3:00Karin Krause (University of Chicago, Divinity School) “a moist secretion without colors and artistic craft”: What Did Christ’s ‘Unmade’ Icons Depict?


Session 3: Icons as Portraits
Chair: Lioba Theis

  • 3:30 – 4:15 Nathan J. Hardy (University of Chicago, Divinity School) The Berytus Icon: A Portrait on the Border of Life and Death
  • 4:15 – 5:00 Lauren Beversluis (University of Chicago, Divinity School) The Hodegetria and the Lukan Legend: A Scriptural Portrait

Saturday, October 2. Venue: Department of Art History (CWAC 157)

9:30 – 10:00 Coffee & Pastries (Art History Lounge, CWAC 161)

Session 4: Portraits in Hagiography
Chair: Karin Krause

  • 10:00 – 10:45 Margaret M. Mitchell (University of Chicago, Divinity School)
  • The Work that Verbal Portraits Do: John Chrysostom, a Half-Empty Church, and a Hot Sunday in Antioch
  • 10:45 – 11:30 Claudia Rapp (University of Vienna, Dept. of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies) Portraits of the Saints, in Word and Image: Ruminations from Byzantine Hagiography
  • 11:30 – 12:15 12:15 – 1:45 Erin Galgay Walsh (University of Chicago, Divinity School) Portraits of Holiness: Symeon the Stylite in Syriac and Greek Verse


 Session 5: Realism in Portraits
Chair: Seth Estrin

  • 1:45 – 2:30 Lioba Theis (University of Vienna, Dept. of Art History) Portraits as Witnesses of Donations
  • 2:30 – 3:15 Jonathan Lyon (University of Chicago, Dept. of History) Literary Portraits in the Lives and Deeds of the Central Middle Ages
  • 3:15 – 3:30 Concluding Remarks Claudia Rapp (University of Vienna, Dept. of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies) 


Photo: Roman sarcophagus from Kerch, Crimea (St. Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum, П.1899.81), detail: portrait painter © Genevra Kornbluth. Organizers: Karin Krause, Marion Meyer, Claudia Rapp, and Lioba Theis. The organizers are grateful for support received from the Chicago-Vienna Faculty Grant Program, the Department of Art History, and the Department of Classics.