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Each seminar runs only subject to sufficient student demand. The Jesuits (also known as the Society of Jesus) were founded in 1540 as a new order in the Roman Catholic Church. They had a greater impact on the global diffusion of Christianity than any other religious order. Their intrepid evangelising activities took them across the globe and through the foundation of schools, colleges and universities, as well as a range of other charitable organisations, they grew in popularity and power. This course explores the architecture and broader material culture of the Jesuit missions during the early modern period in the Americas and Asia, and drawing also on their European origins. Spanning from the reductions of Paraguay to the church of the Bom Jesus in Goa, we will examine how art was used to convert, how new artistic expressions were made possible by fusions of diverse visual traditions, as well as the role that material culture played in establishing Catholicism as a world religion.

Through weekly seminars pivoted around carefully chosen case studies, you will consider the extent to which public rituals or lavishly built and decorated churches were tied to early modern imperialism, as well as how the Jesuits partnered with local communities and how these communities in turn used European visual culture to their own ends. At stake is the very question of the power of art and the different ways in which it was harnessed for its didactic and emotive potential by both the convertors and the converted.

Sample Syllabus:

  1. The Jesuits and the Visual: from the Spiritual Exercises to the Evangelicae Historiae Imagines
  2. Relics and Ritual: Saint Francis Xavier and the Bom Jesus in Goa
  3. The Architecture of the Jesuit Reductions
  4. Fumie and the Kirishitan in Japan
  5. Mughal Miniatures
  6. The Art of Martyrdom
  7. Translating ‘the other’: Peter Paul Rubens and new Iconographies

Key Readings:

  • The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, 1540-1773, ed. John W. O’Malley
  • The Jesuits II: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, 1540-1773, ed. John W. O’Malley
  • Gauvin Bailey, Art on the Jesuit Missions in Asia and Latin America, 1542-1773
  • Circulations in the Global History of Art, ed. Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann
  • Hans Belting, Likeness and Presence