Art as Knowledge: The Unspeakable Subject of Hieronymus Bosch

Joseph Leo Koerner
Victor S. Thomas Professor, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University
January 20, 2009

From the time of its original display through the present day, the subject of Hieronymus Bosch's so-called "Garden of Delights" has eluded audiences. In a lecture devoted to what is arguably the most enigmatic work in the history of art, Joseph Leo Koerner, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Art and Architecture at Harvard University, examines why Bosch's subject was made deliberately unspeakable. The lecture is part of the Art as Knowledge series, which features talks by leading art historians on the subject of how art develops and conveys knowledge.  The respondent for the lecture was Christopher Heuer, Assistant Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University and one of the organizers of the Art as Knowledge series.

Art as Knowledge: Sovereign Power, Death, and Monuments

Zainab Bahrani
Edith Porada Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Art and Archaeology, Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University
March 10, 2009

This lecture considers two ancient Mesopotamian monuments, the stele of Naramsin and the Law Code of Hammurabi. Combining archaeological and formal analyses of these monuments with the perspective of philosophy and critical theory via the writings of Giorgio Agamben, Walter Benjamin, and Jacques Derrida, Bahrani turns to the larger theoretical question of the life span of images and the efficacy of works of art. Rather than taking the two monuments as antiquities isolated in space and time from their own cultural context, Bahrani argues that they are also timeless works of art that reflect on the relationship of law and the state of exception, and the very ancient tie between absolute political power and biopolitics. The respondent for the lecture was Beate Pongratz-Leisten, Lecturer in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. The lecture is part of the Art as Knowledge series, which features talks by leading art historians on the subject of how art develops and conveys knowledge.

Search for Randomness

Jean Bourgain
Institute for Advanced Study
March 25, 2009

Although the concept of randomness is ubiquitous, it turns out to be difficult to generate a truly random sequence of events. The need for “pseudorandomness” in various parts of modern science, ranging from numerical simulation to cryptography, has challenged our limited understanding of this issue and our mathematical resources. In this talk, Professor Jean Bourgain explores some of the problems of pseudorandomness and tools to address them.

Behavior Change as a Psychological Enterprise

Deborah Prentice
Visiting Professor, Institute for Advanced Study
February 25, 2009

Solving societal problems involves changing people’s behavior – inducing them to drink less, exercise more, turn down the heat, stay in school, and so on. Interventions designed to change these behaviors have met with limited success. School of Social Science Visiting Professor Deborah Prentice discusses how a closer look at interventions and their affect on people’s thoughts, feelings, and motivations reveals why some succeed and others fail, and she also suggests strategies for improving these outcomes.