Art History Assistant Professor Ivan Drpić gives a lecture as part of his tenure and promotion process. A reception will follow the lecture.
The Enkolpion: Object and Self in Medieval Byzantium
The term enkolpion encompassed a broad category of objects—crosses, medallions adorned with Christian imagery, and miniature reliquaries, among others—worn around the neck. Protecting the wearer and providing a constant focus to prayer, enkolpia were arguably the most personal and intimate of all devotional artifacts in Byzantium. They were embraced at confession and appealed to in circumstances of danger and anxiety, intensely scrutinized, caressed, and kissed. Yet the agency of these diminutive objects was not limited to their basic religious function. Enkolpia actively participated in various forms of social interaction. They could serve as gifts, collaterals, and safe-conducts, and, most important, operate as physical extensions of their owners. In this lecture, Professor Drpić will explore how the Byzantines used and related to devotional pectorals. The lecture has two objectives: first, to recover the significance of enkolpia as a distinct category of objects; and second, to shed new light on the material culture of personal piety as a critical setting for the formation of subjectivity in Byzantium.