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.
The extraordinary array of images included in this volume reveals the full and rich history of the Middle Ages. Exploring material objects from the European, Byzantine and Islamic worlds, the book casts a new light on the cultures that formed them, each culture illuminated by its treasures. The objects are divided among four topics: The Holy and the Faithful; The Sinful and the Spectral; Daily Life and Its Fictions, and Death and Its Aftermath. Each section is organized chronologically, and every object is accompanied by a penetrating essay that focuses on its visual and cultural significance within the wider context in which the object was made and used. Spot maps add yet another way to visualize and consider the significance of the objects and the history that they reveal. Lavishly illustrated, this is an appealing and original guide to the cultural history of the Middle Ages.
"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
Taking a fresh look at the interconnections between medieval images, texts, theater, and practices of viewing, reading and listening, this explicitly interdisciplinary volume explores various manifestations of performance and meanings of performativity in the Middle Ages. The contributors - from their various perspectives as scholars of art history, religion, history, literary studies, theater studies, music and dance - combine their resources to reassess the complexity of expressions and definitions of medieval performance in a variety of different media. Among the topics considered are interconnections between ritual and theater; dynamics of performative readings of illuminated manuscripts, buildings and sculptures; linguistic performances of identity; performative models of medieval spirituality; social and political spectacles encoded in ceremonies; junctures between spatial configurations of the medieval stage and mnemonic practices used for meditation; performances of late medieval music that raise questions about the issues of historicity, authenticity, and historical correctness in performance; and tensions inherent in the very notion of a medieval dance performance.
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.