Iconotropy: Symbolic and Material Changes to Cult Images in the Classical and Medieval Ages

Scientific meeting

External link
Begins on: Thursday 4 April 2019.
Ends on: Friday 5 April 2019.
Iconotropy is a Greek word which literally means “image turning.” William J. Hamblin (2007) defines the term as “the accidental or deliberate misinterpretation by one culture of the images or myths of another one, especially so as to bring them into accord with those of the first culture.” In fact, iconotropy is commonly the result of the way cultures have dealt with images from foreign or earlier cultures. Numerous accounts from classical antiquity and the Middle Ages detail how cult images were involved in such processes of misinterpretation, both symbolically and materially. Pagan cultures for example deliberately misrepresented ancient ritual icons and incorporated new meanings to the mythical substratum, thus modifying the myth's original meanings and bringing about a profound change to existing religious paradigms. Iconotropy is a fundamental concept in religious history, particularly of contexts in which religious changes, often turbulent, took place. At the same time, the iconotropic process of appropriating cult images brought with it changes in the materiality of those images.
Related keywords: art history, material culture, religious history