Online Lecture: Materiality and Anachronism in the Medieval Church, Dr Karl Kinsella, Zoom, 4th April 2022, 18:00-19:30 BST

The past looks very much like the present to medieval audiences, filled with recognisable buildings, objects and the things of everyday life. This chronological mash-up has little to do with medieval ignorance of the past; instead, it expresses a flexible approach to authenticity and the very real material links between past and present within objects. Over a decade ago Christopher S. Wood and Alexander Nagel proposed a theory of the anachronic, where copies of historical objects retained an inner authenticity in the eyes of contemporary viewers. 

This talk pushes that theory further back into the central Middle Ages by framing it within Latin theories of the world and its inner nature. Medieval church architecture provides an excellent framework to understand this relationship between the material reality of the building and its allegorical links to history. But this relationship is not easily defined and is frequently contradictory. In contemporary texts, the altar, for example, is Christ, but it is also Jerusalem, Goliath and any number of other people, objects, and places in the Christian bible. How can something be both something in front of a medieval churchgoer and also something from history, and how is that seeming contradiction resolved within a contemporary understanding of materiality? This talk will address those questions and allow people to see the church and its embedded significance in a new light.

This seminar will last approximately 60 minutes including a Q&A, and will begin at 6pm GMT on Monday 4th April 2022. The Zoom link for this session will be emailed to you as part of your confirmation of registration (please check your spam/junk folder for this email if you cannot find it). This seminar is part of the Ideology, Society, and Medieval Religion: Impositions and Negotiations series – for more info, see here or email Tim Wingard ( or Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow (

Karl Kinsella is lecturer of medieval art history at the University of Aberdeen. After completing his DPhil in Oxford, he lectured at the University of York for two years before taking up the post of Shuffrey Junior Research Fellow in Architectural History 2018. His work on twelfth-century architectural drawing received the Hawksmoor Medal in architectural history and his book on the subject will be published by MIT Press in February 2023. His new project examines late medieval theories of architecture in northern Europe.

Register for this event here.


Published by Ellie Wilson

Ellie Wilson holds a First Class Honours in the History of Art from the University of Bristol, with a particular focus on Medieval Florence. In 2020 she achieved a Distinction in her MA at The Courtauld Institute of Art, where she specialised in the art and architecture of Medieval England under the supervision of Dr Tom Nickson. Her dissertation focussed on an alabaster altarpiece, and its relationship with the cult of St Thomas Becket in France and the Chartreuse de Vauvert. Her current research focusses on the artistic patronage of London’s Livery Companies immediately pre and post-Reformation. Ellie will begin a PhD at the University of York in Autumn 2021 with a WRoCAH studentship, under the supervision of Professor Tim Ayers and Dr Jeanne Nuechterlein.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: