You are here

Dissertation Defense - Ava Shirazi: The Mirror and the Senses: Reflection and Perception in Classical Greek Thought

In contrast to glass mirrors today, which embody and signify accuracy in the creation of images, the earliest Greek mirrors were made of bronze. My dissertation looks at how this particular and very different type of reflective medium affected discourses about visual experience in ancient Greece. I focus on the material, literary, scientific, and philosophical evidence from the 6th to the 4th centuries BCE, when bronze mirrors proliferated in production and popularity. First, I set forth a new and important claim: that bronze, as a reflective medium, produced what I call a “dynamic” perceptual experience characterized by emission of light, contrasts in color, changes in texture, and variations in perspective. Next, I demonstrate how bronze mirrors influenced the intellectual work on vision and perception in this period. I argue that as Greek thinkers theorized the dynamic reflections produced on bronze mirrors, they turned discourses on vision towards issues of representation more broadly, so much so that by the 4th century BCE, the mirror emerges as a key epistemological tool for thinking about the production, perception, and the very nature of images.



Friday, February 10, 2017. 11:15 AM


Building 110, Room 112 (Classics Department Seminar Room)


Department of Classics