The Alliance Francaise du Bengale, Akshara & Culture Monks, present a talk by Paroma Chatterjee, from the University of Michigan, on “Greek Myths & its influence on  French Renaissance”.

Venue : Alliance Francaise du Bengale, Park Mansions, Park Street, Kolkata

Date : July 22, 2016 | 7 pm onwards

Entry Free :  Pl connect with for further details.

With this talk we launch the project called  Myth, Memory and Mimesis: Revisiting Mythology of Civilizations. 

We launch the first chapter of the project at Alliance Francaise du Bengale with a talk on how the Greeks viewed their myths & the influence of Greek myths on French Renaissance.

“How the Greeks viewed their myths”. A title which allows to approach the word “view”, which means an attitude towards, but also, more specifically, “to look at”, hence, how the Greeks literally looked at depictions of their myths (on vases, walls, etc.).

The ancient Greeks did not just recite and enact their myths; they also viewed them in the medium of paintings and sculptures in a range of spaces and contexts. This talk discusses the depiction of Greek myths on vases and vessels used in the symposia (drinking parties) that were essential to the social formation and identity of the Greek male elites. Exquisitely wrought in red and black forms on a variety of drinking vessels, these vivid paintings reveal the ways in which both power and playfulness informed the reception of myths in Ancient Greece.

We will also discuss the reception of Greek myths after the ancient era – their adaptations and transmissions & how the the French Renaissance was informed by the Greek myths. We find this is the theatre, certainly, with Racine and Corneille, and also in French opera. Way more than the Brits, the Italians or the Germans, it was the French who looked to the Greek classics to produce some of their national masterpieces. And certainly, the use of Greek myth in the French stage was intimately bound up with the social identity of the French aristocracy and ultimately, the monarchy.

About Myth, Memory and Mimesis: Revisiting Mythology of Civilizations

This is an international, cross cultural, interdisciplinary arts project, which will take a contemporary look at Myths, Memories and Mimesis of civilizations, around the world, through the medium of theatre, dance, music, visual arts, photography, etc. The project will involve artists, curators, academia and institutions. The project will entail performances, exhibitions, talks and seminars, films shows & publications.

The objective would be develop a better understanding of our myths and history , find synergies across civilizations and map the current relevance in context of contemporary society, gender, politics & philosophy.

This project is the joint handiwork of Akshara, USA & Culture Monks.

About Paroma Chatterjee

Paroma Chatterjee is a Greek and Latin expert (in addition to French & Italian). She has been trained in the authentic Greek reading of the Iliad at the University of Chicago, and has prior experience in elocution and readings. She is also a trained in French Language & literature. Paroma Chatterjee’s research focuses on artistic encounters in the medieval Mediterranean, medieval image theories, ekphrasis, and sculpture. She has articles published and/or forthcoming in various journals including the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Art History, Word & Image,Dumbarton Oaks Papers, and Oxford Art Journal among others. Her book,Living Icons: The ‘Vita’ Image in Byzantium and Italy, 11th-13th centuries, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press. A second book project on the conceptual values of medieval sculpture is in progress. Chatterjee’s research has been supported by numerous fellowships such as the Dumbarton Oaks Junior Fellowship, the Kress Travel fellowship, Penn Humanities Forum fellowship, and a Millard Meiss Publication Fund Award from CAA. She spent 2012-13 as a fellow at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America at Columbia University.

Below is her bio


2007 (Dec.) Ph.D. Art History, University of Chicago

Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Italy (exchange student, one term)
2001-02 M.A. Art History, University of Chicago
1999-2001 B.A. Cambridge University, England
History of Art (First Class Honors)
1996-1999 B.A. Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
French Language and Literature (First Class Honors)


2012- Assistant Professor, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
2009-12 Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
2007-08 Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Florida, Gainesville


2011-14 Programs and Lectures Committee, ICMA (International Center of Medieval Art, Fort Tryon, NY)
2012 Manuscript review for Material Religion
2003-04 Editorial board, Chicago Art Journal 2



Living Icons: The ‘vita’ image in Byzantium and Italy, 11th -13th centuries (under contract with Cambridge University Press)
Stones, metals and statues: Byzantine marvels (in progress).

Book chapters and journal articles (Refereed)

“The Gifts of the Gorgon: A Close Look at a Byzantine Inkpot,” RES: Journal of Anthropology and Aesthetics, accepted, pending revisions.
“Vision, transformation, and the Veroli Casket”, Oxford Art Journal, forthcoming 2013.
“Ekphrasis, epigrams, and color in Hysmine and Hysminias”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers,
“Francis’ Secret Stigmata”, Art History 35:1 (Feb, 2012): 38-61.
“Sculpted eloquence and Nicetas Choniates’ De Signis”, Word & Image 27:4 (2011): 396-406.
“Archive and Atelier: Sinai and the Case of the Narrative Icon”, in Sharon E. J. Gerstel and
Robert S. Nelson eds., Approaching the Holy Mountain: Art and Liturgy at St. Catherine’s
Monastery in the Sinai (Turnhout: Brepols Press, 2010), 319-44.
“Problem Portraits: The Ambivalence of Visual Representation in Byzantium”, Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 40:2 (2010): 223-47.
Catalogue contributions
“Saint George with Scenes from His Life”, p.159; “Saint Nicholas with Scenes from His Life”,
p. 161; “Saint Catherine and Scenes from Her Life”, p. 265, in Robert S. Nelson and Kristen M.
Collins eds., Holy Image, Hallowed Ground: Icons from Sinai (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2006).

Book reviews

Oleg Tarasov, Framing Russian art: From early icons to Malevich (London: Reaktion Books, 2011),, June 2012.
Henry Maguire, Nectar and Illusion: Nature in Byzantine Art and Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), in Bryn Mawr Classical Review, April 2013.


2012 Millard Meiss Book Publication Fund Award (from the College Art Association)
2012-13 The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies Post-Doctoral Fellowship, New York City
2012 Institute for the Arts and Humanities Faculty Fellowship, UNC Chapel Hill (declined)
2011-12 Institute for the Arts and Humanities Research Grant, UNC Chapel Hill
2008-09 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities, University of Pennsylvania
2007 (July-Sept) Postdoctoral Fellowship, Kunsthistorisches Institut, Florence, Italy (declined)
2006-07 Mellon Foundation Dissertation Writing Fellowship
2005-06 Dumbarton Oaks Junior Fellowship in Byzantine Studies
2005-06 Samuel H. Kress Travel Fellowship
2004-05 Edward L. Ryerson Fellowship, University of Chicago
2003-04 David and Alfred J. Smart Museum Travel Grant, University of Chicago
2002-03 Kathleen J. Shelton Traveling Memorial Fellowship, University of Chicago
1999-2001 Amy Cohen Fund, Cambridge University
1999-2001 Rajiv Gandhi Cambridge Bursary, Cambridge Commonwealth Trust (Full tuition and University fees for Cambridge University)


2000, 2001, Madeleine Jorgenson Prize for First-Class results in Art History Hons. Exams, Cambridge University, England


“The Sense of an Ending: Periodization in Byzantine Art History”
Medieval Art History after the Interdisciplinary Turn, University of Notre Dame
“The Gifts of the Gorgon: A Close Look at the Padua Inkpot”
Medieval & Renaissance Colloquium, Yale University, CT, March 2013
“Renaissance Art in Italy” (Guest lecturer for introductory course)
Department of Art History, Barnard College, NY, December 2012
“Stigmata and Stones: The ‘Secrets’ of St. Francis of Assisi”
The Medieval Guild, Columbia University, NY, October, 2012
“Vision, transformation, and the Veroli casket”
Gennadius Library Work-in-Progress Seminar; American School of Classical Studies in
Athens, Greece, June 2012
“Byzantine Facsimiles in the Sloane Art Library”
Art Library Facsimile Series, UNC Chapel Hill, November, 2011
“The Saint in the Text” (Presentation of book chapter)
Triangle Medieval Studies Seminar, Durham, NC, November, 2010
“Tuesdays and Fridays in Constantinople”
Dept. of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies, Duke University, NC, February, 2010
“ ‘Little black stones’: St. Francis’ Stigmata”
Medieval and Early Modern Studies Colloquium, UNC Chapel Hill, October, 2009
“Some thoughts on the Byzantine sanctuary screen”
Dept. of Art History, Beloit College, WI, November, 2009
“Much of a Muchness?”
“Exchange in the Mediterranean World in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries”,
Conference organised by the Centre for Ancient Studies,
University of Pennsylvania, PA, April, 2009
“Saints and Icons: Business as Usual in Byzantium?”
Dept. of Art History, Temple University, PA, April, 2009
“Icons of the Virgin in Byzantium”
Dept. of Art History, Ursinus College, PA, February, 2009
“Variations on Vision: The Miracles of St. Eustratios”
Art History Colloquium, University of Pennsylvania, PA, February, 2009
“Between the Archive and the Atelier: The Case of the Narrative Icons at Mt. Sinai”
Symposium on “Holy Image, Hallowed Ground: Icons from Sinai”, at the J. Paul Getty
Museum, Los Angeles, CA, January, 2007
“The Byzantine sanctuary screen: obstacle or medium?”
Late Antique and Byzantine Studies Workshop, University of Chicago, IL, March, 2005
“Re-reading the Byzantine ‘vita’ icon”
Late Antique and Byzantine Studies Workshop, University of Chicago, IL, October, 2003


“Charisma and the Fourth Crusade: The Aesthetic and Political Dimensions of Nicetas Choniates’ De Signis”
Medieval and Early Modern Annual Spring Conference, New York University, NY, March 2013
“Mighty Bronze and Worthless Currency: Herakles in Nicetas Choniates’ De Signis”
Byzantine Studies Conference, Chicago, IL, October 2011
“Looking at sculptures with Nicetas Choniates”
“Images at Work: Image and Efficacy from Antiquity to the Rise of Modernity”,
Conference organized by the Kunsthistorisches Institut, Florence, Italy, October, 2010
“A description of description: Looking at images in Hysmine and Hysminias”
College Art Association, Chicago, IL, February, 2010
“Icon and relic on the Eustratios beam”
Byzantine Studies Association of North America, Sarasota, FL, November, 2009
“Saintly Novelties: The ‘Narrative’ Image in Byzantium and the West”
Medieval Academy of America, Chicago, IL, March, 2009
“An Icon for St. Nikon: Problems of Visual Representation”
Byzantine Studies Conference, New Jersey, NJ, October, 2008
“Dialogue or Polemic?: The Case of the Kalenderhane Fresco of St. Francis”
College Art Association, New York City, NY, February, 2007
“Saintly Lives in Sacred Space: A Physical Context for Byzantine ‘Narrative’ Icons”
Byzantine Studies Conference, St. Louis, MO, November, 2006
“Moving miracles: investigating the animated image in Byzantium”
Kalamazoo Medieval Studies Congress, MI, May 2005
“Repositories of Rhetoric: Re-interpreting the Byzantine “Vita” Icons”
The Newberry Library Graduate Student Conference, Chicago, IL, June 2004


Ancient: Greek, Latin
Modern: Bengali, Hindi, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian (basic)


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