Marian Feldman will be coming to speak in the Seminar in Cultural History Wednesday, October 6, 2010, on “The Materiality of Style: The Case of Ivories from early 1st Millennium BCE Syria.”

Marian Feldman is Associate Professor in the departments of History of Art and Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she has taught since 1998. She received her A.B. magna cum laude in Art History from Columbia University and Ph.D. from Harvard University. She has been the recipient of a number of fellowships and awards, including the J. Paul Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship in the History of Art and the Humanities, from 2003 to 2004, and in 2008 she was the American Council of Learned Societies’ Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, CA. In June 2010 Dr. Feldman was Visiting Professor at University of Heidelberg. She has participated in excavations at Umm el-Marra, Syria, and at Göltepe in Turkey and since 2009 has been Chair of the Baghdad Committee of the American Schools of Oriental Research.

In 2006 Dr. Feldman published Diplomacy by Design: Luxury Arts and an ‘International Style’ in the Ancient Near East, 1400-1200 BCE (2006). With Jack Cheng, she was editor of Ancient Near Eastern Art in Context: Studies in Honor of Irene J. Winter by Her Students (2007) and with Marlies Heinz of Representations of Political Power: Case Histories from Times of Change and Dissolving Order in the Ancient Near East (2007). She is author of numerous articles, most recently, “Classification and Contextualization of 2nd Millennium Ivories: The Case of Ugarit,” in Syrian and Phoenician Ivories of the Early First Millennium BCE (2009) and “Hoarded Treasures: The Megiddo Ivories and the End of the Bronze Age,” in Levant (2009).

Dr. Feldman’s talk is entitled “The Materiality of Style: The Case of Ivories from early 1st Millennium BCE Syria.” Thousands of exquisitely carved ivories have been excavated from the palatial storehouses of the Assyrian capital of Nimrud over the last 150 years. It was immediately apparent that the vast majority was not executed in the known Assyrian style, and fairly quickly scholars divided the ivories between Phoenician and North Syrian manufacture of the 9th-8thcenturies BCE. Yet the stylistic diversity seen across these ivories continues to incite debate regarding more specific places and dates of manufacture. In this talk, Feldman argues that these ivories resist such attributional pursuits and that we can instead consider their stylistic peculiarities from a social dimension along the lines of Bourdieu’s “practical logic.” Feldman will examine one group of ivories that exhibits stylistic animal markings traceable to the prior Late Bronze Age period (1600-1200 BCE) and propose that they played a critical role in stylistic practices by embodying social memory and enhancing emerging communities of identity in North Syria at the dawn of the Iron Age.