Benjamin Anderson will be presenting at the Global Middle Ages Seminar on Wednesday, January 18 at 6 pm. His talk is entitled “‘The Great Kosmos of All Armenia’: On the Sarcophagus of Isaac.”


Benjamin Anderson is Assistant Professor of History of Art and Visual Studies at Cornell University, and author of Cosmos and Community in Early Medieval Art (Yale University Press, 2017). He received his PhD from Bryn Mawr College.

We study “global art history”—when we study it at all—by tracing the transfer of objects, ideas, etc. across and between regions, or by attempting structural comparisons between discreet traditions. That both procedures are intrinsically modern is no reason not to pursue them, but still: what was “global art” before? In this talk, Anderson attempts an answer by considering how a single, unwieldy, sedentary object has refracted shifting conceptions of the “global.” Betrousered Persians bear gifts from the east on a fifth-century sarcophagus, transformed in the seventh into a memorial for ὁ τῆς ἁπάσης Ἀρμενίας κόσμος μέγας, “the great kosmos of all Armenia,” a dizzying conceit split already in the early modern into UNIVERSAE ARMENIAE ORNAMENTUM MAGNUM.