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Philosophy & Religion Programs


Byzantine Art and its Legacy

Thursday, September 28, 2023 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

A key feature of the Byzantine Empire’s visual culture was an orientation toward religious themes as shaped by Orthodox Christianity. They were explored in a remarkable variety of media, from wall frescoes to miniature mosaics to exquisitely carved ivories. Art historian Aneta Georgievska-Shine explores some of the most important aspects of the visual arts of this empire at the cultural crossroads of west and east. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)


The Met’s Magnificent Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Friday, September 29, 2023 - 7:00 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. ET

The Cloisters, the branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to medieval art, houses priceless objects such as the renowned illuminated book of hours, Belles Heures, of Jean, Duke of Berry; exquisite stained glass chapel windows; stone sculptures; painted icons; and a carved ivory cross. Tour the galleries and the three medieval-style gardens with art historian Ursula Wolfman. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)


The Great Cathedrals and Basilicas of Italy

Saturday, September 30, 2023 - 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

The churches of Italy are renowned for their artistic treasures, from Giotto’s 14th-century frescoes in Florence, Padua, and Assisi to Giacomo Manzu’s great 20th-century bronze doors for St. Peter’s in Rome. In a splendidly illustrated seminar, art historian Sophia D’Addio of Columbia University explores churches that represent some of Italy’s greatest repositories of sacred art. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)


Jews and Arabic: Judeo-Arabic, Its Literature, and Why It Matters

Wednesday, October 18, 2023 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Between the 6th and 11th centuries, Arabic was the native language of most of the Jewish population. Focusing on the writings of central thinkers and scholars during this critical era of Rabbinic Judaism, Miriam Goldstein of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem examines the sweeping linguistic and cultural transformations in Judeo-Arabic religious scholarship that shaped Judaism as we know it today.


In Search of the Soul: Comparative Visions in World Religions

Thursday, October 19, 2023 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

What is the soul? What animates our bodies? Does a part of us continue to exist after death? Comparative religion scholar Graham Schweig explores perspectives from ancient traditions and examines mystical texts, sacred writings, poetry, art, and music from the major world religions to help answer these questions.


Exploring the Cluny Museum in Paris

Monday, October 23, 2023 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Step from the bustling sidewalks of the Left Bank in Paris into a veritable treasure house: the Cluny Museum. The remains of ancient Roman baths and the Gothic Paris residence of the abbots of Cluny provide the fairy-tale backdrop for marvels of medieval art. Barbara Drake Boehm, a curator emerita of The Met Cloisters, explores the museum, renovated and reopened last year. The masterpieces inside include the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, sculpture from the Cathedral of Notre-Dame that was buried during the French Revolution, and a Jewish wedding ring hidden by its owner during the Black Death. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)


Religion in the Andes

Monday, October 30, 2023 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

Civilization in the Andes Mountains emerged in almost complete isolation from other parts of the world, as did religion there. Archaeologist Kevin Lane delves into the nature of Inca religious practice and traces the emergence of organized religion in the highland Andes.


Constantine the Great: The First Christian Roman Emperor?

Wednesday, November 1, 2023 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Constantine was the first Roman emperor to declare his support for Christianity, pouring imperial patronage and resources into the church and transforming what had been a persecuted minority into the empire’s favored religion. Some modern commentators, however, have questioned Constantine’s motives and the sincerity of his faith. Historian David Gwynn focuses on the words of Constantine himself to understand this intriguing emperor.


Contemplating Nietzsche

Wednesday, November 1, 2023 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

“God is dead . . . and we have killed him.” These words are perhaps the most famous—and misunderstood—of many provocative aphorisms penned by the 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Join Georgetown professor Joseph Hartman for an in-person discussion of this controversial modern thinker.


Exploring Ancient Anatolia: A Turkish Odyssey

Wednesday, November 8, 2023 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

Anatolia’s colorful history has left a windfall of riches—ancient ruins, ornate Byzantine churches, supremely elegant mosques, and splendid Ottoman palaces. In an illustrated series, Serif Yenen, a Turkish-born tour guide and author, highlights the heritage and splendor of ancient Turkey through an examination of some of its cultural gems.


Close-up on the Cloisters

Thursday, November 30, 2023 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

The Met Cloisters, the branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to the art of medieval Europe, presents extraordinary works of art from the 8th to the 16th centuries in a stunning setting at the tip of Manhattan. In a virtual visit, Barbara Drake Boehm, Paul and Jill Ruddock curator emerita of The Cloisters, highlights works from Paris to Prague, Canterbury to Cordoba, that attest to the skill and imagination of medieval artists and the beauty they imparted to the world. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)


Sacred Images: The Christmas Story in Renaissance Art

Friday, December 15, 2023 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

The Christmas story has inspired some of the most affectionate, gentle, and intimate images in the history of Western art. How the biblical narrative was portrayed in Renaissance art dramatically evolved over time, mirroring changes in society and shifts in religious attitude. Moving from a narrow, sacred vision of mother and child to a full-blown cast of humans and animals, Renaissance art historian Elaine Ruffolo offers a lavishly illustrated exploration of the Christmas story as told through painting. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)


Spinoza: The Father of Modern Thought

Wednesday, January 24, 2024 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Spinoza, one of the most important philosophers—and certainly the most radical—of the early modern period, is mistakenly considered to have been an atheist, although his work includes no arguments against the existence of God. To examine how and why atheism and modernism are associated with Spinoza’s philosophy, Ori Z. Soltes of Georgetown University explores what he thought and wrote; the Portuguese-Jewish community of Amsterdam in which he was raised; and his relationship with the people and the world around him.