ISM Travel Seminar | Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo

Two students reflect on their experiences as participants in the Yale ISM 2016 Spring Break travel seminar.

This past March, a group of students enrolled in the seminar “Art and Ritual at Mount Sinai” (co-taught by Professors Vasileios Marinis and Rob Nelson) journeyed across the globe to see visual art in its original context. Contrary to what the course title might suggest, however, we didn’t actually get to visit Mount Sinai. When safety concerns in Egypt emerged early in the semester, our instructors redirected our focus: instead of merely studying Sinai, we also began reading about what is now Eastern Europe, a region heavily influenced by the Byzantine Empire. During our trip, we visited several different cities, churches, and monasteries throughout Serbia, Kosovo, and Macedonia. Perhaps a more appropriate name for the course, in light of all that transpired, might be “Art and Ritual in Byzantium and Beyond.” And as we soon discovered, it was the “beyond” portion of the seminar that turned out to be the most enriching part of our experience, broadening both our research interests and our worldviews.