“Jesus in the East: The Spiritual Traditions of the Byzantine and Russian Orthodox Churches”

"Close Reading" Assignment


Students in "Jesus in the East: The Spiritual Traditions of the Byzantine and Russian Orthodox Churches" (RSNST/RELST 255; Spring 2005) were given the assignment to research the symbolism and theological significance of a pre-selected group of medieval Russian icons.  Their findings and analysis were codified in a poster printed in the Multimedia Presentation Center.


The process the students followed was developed by Professor Franklin Sciacca, in collaboration with reference librarian Lynn Mayo and graphic artist Krista Siniscarco.  In planning sessions before the start of the spring semester, Professor Sciacca "modeled" the assignment by creating a sample poster on the icon of the Nativity of Christ, the design of which functioned as the template from which his students would create their posters.  In the first stage of the assignment, students conducted extensive research on their icons.  The writing process required intensive faculty involvement, including several individual meetings with Professor Sciacca to refine the research and analysis.  Before launching the initial research, students attended a library instruction session, in which they were provided with an extensive list of reference works to assist in the analysis of the symbols encountered in the iconography.


Technology issues in the production of the poster were addressed in a series of workshops conducted by ITS staff, including scanning of images and poster development/proofing open labs (Assignment Timeline link).   Professor Sciacca collaborated closely with HILLgroup members to guide and structure the learning process during the various stages of poster creation.  Upon completion of their posters, students presented a summary of their research in class.  The final posters are on exhibit on the second floor of Christian A. Johnson Building.   

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