Jeffrey Hamburger

Jeffrey Hamburger

Robert Lehman Harvard Visiting Professor
Drawing Conclusions: Diagrams in Medieval Art and Thought
Jeffrey Hamburger


The Kuno Francke Professor of German Art and Culture at in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University, Prof. Hamburger is a specialist in the art of the Middle Ages, with a focus on medieval manuscript illumination. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society as well as a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, he has published extensively on the art, religion and literature of the Middle Ages. Recent publications include Color in Cusanus (2021), The Birth of the Author: Pictorial Prefaces in Glossed Books of the Twelfth Century (2021), Imperial Splendor: The Art of the Book in the Holy Roman Empire, 800–1500 (2021), and Diagramming Devotion (2020).


Project Summary

As part of ongoing research on diagrams, Prof. Hamburger will prepare the Panizzi Lectures (British Library, Fall 2022). The 3 lectures, grouped under the general rubric, “Drawing Conclusions: Diagrams in Medieval Art and Thought,” are: 1) “Maps of the Mind: Diagrams Medieval and Modern,” 2) “The Classroom and the Codex: Practical Dimensions of Medieval Diagrams,” and 3) “Poetry, Play, Persuasion: The Diagrammatic Imagination.” Why diagrams? And why medieval diagrams in particular? Diagrams represent a critical chapter within the development of techniques of visualization, whether in philosophy, science, mathematics or the arts. They also constitute, or so it has been argued, a means of generating rather than simply of representing knowledge. Disparaged through much of the twentieth century, diagrams today enjoy a renaissance due, in large measure, to their applications in physics, computer programming, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence, but also on account of reevaluations of what constitutes an image in contexts as varied as visual studies, the history of science, and Bildwissenschaft. Bringing to bear modern discourses on diagrams from fields as diverse as computer and cognitive science to semiotics, post-structuralism, and the history of logic, the lectures on which Prof. Hamburger will work while at I Tatti will consider the implications of diagrammatic modes of thought and representation for such age-old philosophical questions as, inter alia, what constitutes an image and what relationship such images have to truth.