In this contribution to the second installment of the Common Knowledge symposium “In the Humanities Classroom,” a Harvard University graduate seminar on diagrams in the Middle Ages is described in detail. The course brought together a group of students as diverse as the various fields in which diagrams and diagrammatic modes of thought currently play a critical role: not only art history, visual studies, and design, but also computer science, “Bildwissenschaft,” and the history of literature and science, as well as music history and composition. Each participant, including the instructor, was required to cope with a considerable amount of unfamiliar material, but everyone was amply rewarded by the interdisciplinary dialogue that ensued. For the instructor in particular, the seminar proved to be an island of sanity—a means of engaging with the world, in a manner both passionate and dispassionate, during a crisis in his own personal life.
Jeffrey F. Hamburger; A Seminar On Diagrams as Conversation and Consolation. Common Knowledge 1 August 2018; 24 (3): 356–365. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-6939745
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