Spiritual Vegetation: A Workshop on Vegetal Nature in Religious Contexts

Guita Lamsechi's picture
June 15, 2017
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Medieval and Byzantine History / Studies, Early Modern History and Period Studies, Literature, Religious Studies and Theology

A one-day event organised by Guita Lamsechi (CRRS fellow, Toronto) and Beatrice Trînca (Freie Universität Berlin)

Thursday, June 15, 2017, 1:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Freie Universität Berlin, Institut für Religionswissenschaft, 
Fabeckstraße 23 – 25, Room 2.2059, 14195 Berlin

This workshop is an interdisciplinary consideration of vegetal nature – trees and plants – focussing on the medieval and early modern eras.

Trees and plants serve important roles in religious art and literature. For example, in early Netherlandish paintings the plants in biblical scenes may have specific iconographic meanings. Yet, vegetal imagery can also serve broader roles in support of religious themes. In the frames of altarpieces and the borders of illuminated manuscripts and books, vegetal ornament enhances the central religious subject matter. Gardens and other kinds of natural landscapes can provide numinous settings that augment the religious significance of art and literature. Trees and plants are also found in the liturgy, as metaphors in theological writings, and as the ornament that signals the spiritual prestige of liturgical implements and emphasizes the sacred zones of churches.

Our program will include lectures and discussion papers that consider vegetal nature from different material and theoretical perspectives. The event concludes at the Gemäldegalerie Berlin where the participants will explore vegetal themes in religious art in the museum collections.


1:00 p.m.
Greeting and brief introduction by Guita Lamsechi and Beatrice Trînca

1:10 p.m.
Tina Bawden (Berlin): Merging martyrs and plants, mapping saintly ecologies: Two examples (11th - 12th centuries)

2:00 p.m.
Johannes Traulsen (Berlin): Die Sultanstochter im Blumengarten. Erzählen im Spannungsfeld von Fruchtbarkeit und Entsagung

Ulrike Zellmann (Berlin): Natur und Kunstnatur – Wettstreit und Konkurrenz von artificialia und naturalia  in der Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

3:50 p.m.
Guita Lamsechi (Toronto): Picturing Devotion in Wild Northern Spaces

Sarina Tschachtli (Zürich): “ Mein Gebeine müssen grünen”. Spiritual and Vegetal Growth in the Writings of Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg

5:20 − 6:15 p.m.
Transfer to the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin 

6:15 − 8:00 p.m.
Museum visit in the Gemäldegalerie with an object presentation by Friederike Wille (Berlin) and Guita Lamsechi 

Invited Discussants:
Roberta Ascarelli (Roma) and Tobias Petry (Berlin)

Workshop languages are English and German.
Tagungssprachen sind Deutsch und Englisch.

To register, please contact Beatrice Trînca:

Contact Info: 

Freie Universität Berlin, Institut für Religionswissenschaft, 
Fabeckstraße 23 – 25, Room 2.2059, 14195 Berlin