Spectacular Songs and Private Performances: Images in Musical Books (Kalamazoo 2016 session)

The Wollaton antiphonal, University of Nottingham
The Wollaton antiphonal, University of Nottingham

51st International Congress on Medieval Studies
May 12-15, 2016
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI

DEADLINE: September 15, 2015

A wide variety of medieval manuscripts contain visual imagery that coexists with texts originally intended for oral or musical performance. From sacred Latin missals and choirbooks to the vernacular songbooks of the later Middle Ages, the interplay between image, text, and music found in such books is inexhaustibly complex. Images in songbooks may be illustrative, decorative, mnemonic, or exegetical; they may colonize the center of a page or pervade its margins; they may visualize a song’s author, its contents, or both at once; they may instruct, admonish, or entertain. They may perform several of these functions at once, or behave in altogether unexpected ways.

Scholars in recent years have spoken of the “performative” capacity of such imagery, and the word has borne a multitude of meanings and connotations. In all cases, the presence of visual imagery necessarily challenges a straightforward reading of the text. We can and should go farther, however: insofar as pictures generate a new material context for the reception of oral and musical content, they essentially create new texts. This session welcomes papers from historians of art, literature, music, liturgy, and performance to explore the visual culture and performative contexts of medieval song- and music books.

Proposals for presentations of no more than 20 minutes should be sent to D. Lyle Dechant (dennis.dechant@yale.edu) no later than Sept. 15.

Proposals should be accompanied by the Participant Information Form, available at http://www.wmich.edu/medieval/congress/submissions/index.html#PIF

Published by James Alexander Cameron

I am an art historian working primarily on medieval parish church architecture. I completed my doctorate on sedilia in medieval England in 2015 at The Courtauld Institute of Art.

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