ON MONUMENTALITY: BUILDING for the WORLD STAGE
ROBERT G. OUSTERHOUT
(UNIVERSITY of PENNSYLVANIA)
MONDAY, MAY 13, 2019 15:40-17:30
Abstract: The paper develops the notion of building for the world stage, looking at architecture as participating in a competitive discourse with the past. In this, it offers a slightly different approach to the concept of monumentality, for a monument is more than simply “a memorial left as a ‘warning’ or a ‘reminder’ (monere) to posterity,” as the ancient Romans defined it. In addition to evoking a sense of grandeur or an aura of power, marking history, or acting as repositories of collective memory, great monuments do so in a recognizable language – one that may be understood beyond a local or regional context, and within a broad chronological framework as well. To develop this theme, I focus on a familiar monument, Justinian’s Hagia Sophia, and I suggest ways we might situate it within a larger nexus of architectural discourse.
Professor Robert G. Ousterhout (Ph.D. University of Illinois) is a Professor Emeritus in the History of Art Department at the University of Pennsylvania, where he started teaching in 2007. Previously he was Professor of Architectural History at the University of Illinois, teaching there for more than twenty years. A recognized specialist in Byzantine architecture, his research focuses on the documentation and interpretation of the vanishing architectural heritage of the eastern Mediterranean. His current fieldwork concentrates on Byzantine architecture, monumental art, and urbanism in Constantinople, Cappadocia, and Jerusalem. Since 2011 he has co-directed the “Cappadocia in Context” graduate seminar, a summer field school for Koç University.
At Pennsylvania, Prof. Ousterhout served as Director of the Center for Ancient Studies in 2008-16. He was Fellow in residence at Dumbarton Oaks and also served as Senior Fellow. He has also been President of both the U.S. National Committee for Byzantine Studies and of the Byzantine Studies Association of North America. At Illinois, he was honored as University Scholar (1992-95), Outstanding Faculty in the College of Fine and Applied Arts (1991, 2002), Associate at the Institute of Advanced Study (1993-4, 2006), and he received their Alumni Achievement Award in 2011.