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Department of languages and cultures presents lecture on astronomy in Medieval churches

Loyola press release - November 8, 2011

The Loyola University New Orleans Department of Languages and Cultures presents “Astronomy, Space, and Time in Medieval Churches,” a lecture about astronomical learning in the Middle Ages, on Nov. 14, at 8 p.m. in Nunemaker Auditorium in Monroe Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Stephen C. McCluskey, Ph.D., a leading expert on astronomy and cosmology, will explore the fact that, while it is widely known that the institution of the Christian church was the primary source for all education during the middle ages, the actual physical structures of these churches represented elements of astronomical learning in a way that was accessible to, and used by the general populace.

According to McCluskey, astronomical learning was practical in focus and concerned areas where astronomy intersected with the practical concerns of medieval society with the organization of time and space.

“Religious imagery that adorned medieval churches served as books in stone, paint and glass and provided a way to teach medieval people religious lessons,” McCluskey said. “Similarly, the astronomical elements embodied in medieval churches complemented this religious imagery by teaching the basic astronomical relations of space and time.”

McCluskey is professor emeritus of history at West Virginia University. He is co-editor for Archaeoastronomy: The Journal of Astronomy in Culture, and until recently, served as chair for the Working Group on the Preservation of Astronomical Heritage of the American Astronomical Society. A widely-published author, McCluskey’s most recent publication is “Astronomies and Cosmologies in the Latin West.”

For more information, contact Loyola professor Connie Rodriguez, Ph.D., at rodrigue@loyno.edu.