AudioVision in the Middle Ages

Thursday September 21
Saint Meinrad Archabbey
7 p.m. CST

The annual Dolle Lecture on Church Art and Architecture will be held at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology on Thursday, September 21, 2023, in St. Meinrad, IN.

Bissera Pentcheva will speak on “AudioVision in the Middle Ages: Sainte-Foy at Conques.” The lecture will be held at 7 p.m. Central Time in St. Bede Theater on the Saint Meinrad campus.

For the past century, the study of medieval art has predominantly focused on the exploration of the visual. Very little consideration has been given to the fact that the architectural spaces, their decoration, and cult images were the focus of a continuous flow of chant during the liturgical celebration. The music with its poetry and melodic form shaped the perception of the images.

Pentcheva’s lecture will turn to the eleventh-century chants from the office of Sainte-Foy at Conques, using them as a new analytical tool to explore the staging and experience of the golden statue of Sainte-Foy and the narrative reliefs displayed in the abbey’s church.

Bissera Pentcheva is a professor of art and art history at Stanford University. Her innovative work on acoustics, art, and music has redefined the field of Byzantine architecture and is now expanding into Western medieval art. Her new research explores the visions of Sainte-Foy at Conques developed in the interactions across art, music, poetry, and dance. The project is funded by Stanford's Cultivating the Humanities Grant.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in art history from Dartmouth College. She received her master’s degree in medieval and Roman art and architecture, and a doctorate in medieval and Byzantine art and architecture from Harvard University.

Pentcheva has published three books with Pennsylvania State University Press: “Icons and Power: The Mother of God in Byzantium,” (received the Nicholas Brown Prize of the Medieval Academy of America in 2010), “The Sensual Icon: Space, Ritual, and the Senses in Byzantium,” and “Hagia Sophia: Sound, Space, and Spirit in Byzantium,” (received the 2018 American Academy of Religion Award in Excellence in historical studies).

The lecture is free and open to the public. Parking is available behind St. Bede Hall, as well as in the Guest House and student parking lots. For more information, contact Krista Hall during business hours at (812) 357-6501.

The Peter and Viola Dolle Lecture on Church Art and Architecture was established by Saint Meinrad alumnus Adam Dolle to commemorate the lives of his parents. They spent 48 years together until Peter’s death in 1982. Both exhibited an artistic sensitivity and an abiding Christian faith. Peter was a master builder, while Viola embodied a spontaneous spirit that is the life of art.