The Heavenly Class: Divine Servants from Around the Globe
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Previous scholarly interpretations of the Renaissance era have framed it from a mostly European perspective. However, there has been increasing focus in the last few years on the Renaissance as a period of globalization and cross-cultural interactions. As part of a summer research project, I developed a website titled “The Heavenly Class: Divine Servants from Around the Globe” using the program ArcGIS StoryMaps. The site serves as a comparative study of artistic depictions of religious leaders from around the globe from the 1400s to the 1700s. In this project, I decenter traditional Eurocentric views of the Renaissance and provide a more complete narrative of the period by incorporating the art of cultures such as the Ming Dynasty, the Mughal Empire, and the Aztec Empire. One challenge that a comparative study can present is that it may imply the supremacy or inferiority of one work over another. I remedy this issue through the use of a more rhizomatic approach that gives several different pieces equal and sustained attention. Another challenge is applying a specific category such as “divine servants” to a global range of cultures. Cultural relativism should be utilized to avoid making generalizations across different societies. Technologies such as ArcGIS StoryMaps open avenues for art-historical research by creating new formats for conveying information; by having students do independent research on topics in art from a global perspective, students can draw connections between different cultures and decenter Eurocentric perspectives.
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Sullivan, Deirdre M., "The Heavenly Class: Divine Servants from Around the Globe" (2022). Student Publications. 1080.