Kelvin Smith Library celebrates scholarship at Case Western Reserve University by recognizing faculty authors in the Case School of Engineering, College of Arts and Sciences, and the Weatherhead School of Management who have written or edited books.
In Worlds Within, Elina Gertsman investigates the Shrine Madonnas, or Vierges ouvrantes—sculptures that conceal within their bodies complex carved and/or painted iconographies. The Shrine Madonna emerged in Europe at the end of the 1200s and reached a peak of popularity during the following three centuries. Gertsman argues that the appearance of these objects—predicated as they are on the dynamic of concealment, revelation, and fragmentation—points to the changing roles of vision and sensation in the complex, performative ways in which audiences were expected to engage with devotional images, both in public and in private. Worlds Within considers these fascinating sculptures in terms of the rhetoric of secrecy, the discourse of containment, and the tropes of unveiling. Gertsman demonstrates how the statues were associated with the processes of seeing and memory-making and how they functioned as instruments of revelatory knowledge and spiritual reformation in the context of late medieval European culture.
Sacred and profane, public and private, emotive and ritualistic, internal and embodied, medieval weeping served as a culturally charged prism for a host of social, visual, cognitive, and linguistic performances. Crying in the Middle Ages addresses the place of tears in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic cultural discourses, providing a key resource for scholars interested in exploring medieval notions of emotion, gesture, and sensory experience in a variety of cultural contexts. Gertsman brings together essays that establish a series of conversations with one another, foregrounding essential questions about the different ways that crying was seen, heard, perceived, expressed, and transmitted throughout the Middle Ages. In acknowledging the porous nature of visual and verbal evidence, this collection foregrounds the necessity to read language, image, and experience together in order to envision the complex notions of medieval crying.
Elina Gertsman's multifaceted study introduces readers to the imagery and texts of the Dance of Death, an extraordinary subject that first emerged in western European art and literature in the late medieval era. Conceived from the start as an inherently public image, simultaneously intensely personal and widely accessible, the medieval Dance of Death proclaimed the inevitability of death and declared the futility of human ambition. Gertsman inquires into the theological, socio-historic, literary, and artistic contexts of the Dance of Death, exploring it as a site of interaction between text, image, and beholder. Pulling together a wide variety of sources and drawing attention to those images that have slipped through the cracks of the art historical canon, Gertsman examines the visual, textual, aural, pastoral, and performative discourses that informed the creation and reception of the Dance of Death, and proposes different modes of viewing for several paintings, each of which invited the beholder to participate in an active, kinesthetic experience.
"This aptly-named book brings all manner of boundary-crossing into one provocative, material space in which we can view the riches of state-of-the-art scholarship on medieval and early modern visual culture." Gail McMurray Gibson, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of English and Humanities, Davidson College The essays in this collection explore the thresholds between the visual and verbal, the sensory and performative, the literal and metaphorical, the social and epistemological that shaped the cultural matrix of the Middle Ages. The contributors' interrelated interests in patronage, word-image relationships, reception theory, gender studies, close visual and textual analysis, and performance criticism make for a valuable interdisciplinary mix that highlights the importance of studying medieval material culture in its many manifestations and valences. The book benefits from the ambitious cross-disciplinary explorations and engagements with contemporary theory undertaken in the field of medieval studies in recent decades, especially those by Pamela Sheingorn, to whom the volume is dedicated. Jill Stevenson is Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts, Marymount Manhattan College; Elina Gertsman is Assistant Professor of Medieval Art, Case Western Reserve University. Contributors: Richard K. Emmerson, Kathryn A. Smith, Lucy Freeman Sandler, Marilynn Desmond, Adelaide Bennett, Jonathan J. G. Alexander, Diane Wolfthal, Corine Schleif, Rachel Dressler, Glenn Burger, Robert L. A. Clark, Jenna Soleo-Shanks, Glenn Ehrstine, Colum Hourihane