Category Archives: Resources

Research Group: Research Network of Interdisciplinary Medieval Studies

logo_rede_estudos_medievaisThe Red de Estudios Medievales Interdisciplinares is the result of a collaboration between scholars researching Medieval Art at various departments of the University of Compostela, other Galician and Portuguese universities and the Instituto de Estudos Gallegos “Padre Sarmiento” del CSIC (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas).

The group welcomes scholars in Spain and abroad, and runs various research activities, for example: cultural and formative site visits, training courses, events leading to multidisciplinary publications, website articles, European research projects.

To learn more and get involved in their research activities, visit their website. 

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Exclusively Medieval, Online & Open Access: 2017 special issue of British Art Studies

The latest issue of British Art Studies (an open access, online Art History journal published by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art), is entirely devoted to Medieval Britain. The content is derived from a conference held at the British Museum in 2014: Invention and Imagination in British Art & Architecture, 600-1500.

It opens with an editorial by guest editors Sandy Heslop and Jessica Berenbeim, followed by twelve articles in traditional format: 

Thanks to the digital platform, it is possible to reference the articles to the nearest paragraph using the DOI link. The platform’s scope is further tested through the Conversation Piece and Handling Digital Objects portions of this special issue: 

Another innovative feature is a virtual simulation of the object sessions held at the 2014 conference. In actuality, these took the form of guided sessions with objects in the seminar rooms at the conference venue. In the journal, they are recreated via four interactive 3D models of objects, each accompanied by a short essay: 

New Book Series: Monsters, Prodigies, and Demons: Medieval and Early Modern Constructions of Alterity

This series is dedicated to the study of monstrosity and alterity in the medieval and early modern world, and to the investigation of cultural constructions of otherness, abnormality and difference from a wide range of perspectives. Submissions are welcome from scholars working within established disciplines, including—but not limited to—philosophy, critical theory, cultural history, history of science, history of art and architecture, literary studies, disability studies, and gender studies. Since much work in the field is necessarily pluridisciplinary in its methods and scope, the editors are particularly interested in proposals that cross disciplinary boundaries. The series publishes English-language, single-author volumes and collections of original essays. Topics might include hybridity and hermaphroditism; giants, dwarves, and wild-men; cannibalism and the New World; cultures of display and the carnivalesque; “monstrous” encounters in literature and travel; jurisprudence, law, and criminality; teratology and the “New Science”; the aesthetics of the grotesque; automata and self-moving machines; or witchcraft, demonology, and other occult themes.

Series Editors:

Kathleen Perry Long, Cornell University

Luke Morgan, Monash University

Advisory Board:

Elizabeth B. Bearden, University of Wisconsin Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, George Washington University Surekha Davies, Western Connecticut State University Richard H. Godden, Louisiana State University Maria Fabricius Hansen, University of Copenhagen Virginia A. Krause, Brown University Jennifer Spinks, University of Melbourne Debra Higgs Strickland, University of Glasgow Wes Williams, University of Oxford

 Publisher: MIP, The University Press at Kalamazoo 

For more information, visit: https://mip-archumanitiespress.org/series/mip/monsters-prodigies-and-demons/

Reflections on the Thomas Becket Study Day, 7th June 2017, Canterbury Cathedral

There could scarcely be a more appropriate setting for a study day on the theme of Thomas Becket than Canterbury Cathedral, the location of the archbishop’s martyrdom nearly 850 years ago on the 29th December 1170. In the Cathedral Library and Archives, just metres from the site of Becket’s murder in the North West Transept, experts from universities, museums and Canterbury heritage organisations gathered to discuss the saint’s life and cult.

The day began with a series of ‘quick fire’ presentations, each focusing on one theme or object related to Thomas Becket. The range of material gave an immediate sense of the scale and popularity of Becket’s cult in the Middle Ages and beyond. Some objects discussed have likely existed in the vicinity of Canterbury since they were produced, including a fragmentary sandstone ampulla mould discovered in the garden of 16 Watling Street (Dr Paul Bennett, Canterbury Archaeological Trust), a thirteenth-century cartulary made for Christ Church containing charters for the shrine of Thomas Becket (Professor Louise Wilkinson, Canterbury Christ Church University), the seal of Archbishop Simon Sudbury showing Becket’s martyrdom (Dr Sheila Sweetinburgh, University of Kent), and the spectacular miracle windows in the Trinity Chapel of the Cathedral itself (Professor Michael A. Michael, Christie’s Education).

Thomas Becket ampulla (or vessel), now in the British Museum, similar to the kind that would have been produced by the Watling Street mould discussed by Dr Paul Bennet. See more 3D models of pilgrim souvenirs here

Image 2, Sens Chasuble

Chasuble in Sens Cathedral treasury thought to have been worn by Thomas Becket and venerated as a contact relic

Other delegates discussed geographically dispersed objects which originated or were believed to have originated in Canterbury. For instance, pilgrim souvenirs depicting Becket were bought by visitors to Canterbury and, it would seem, lost on the way home. These badges, with their intricate and compelling imagery, would have been worn on the bags, hats and garments of pilgrims as signs of their visit to Becket’s shrine and are now excavated from sites across Britain and Europe (Amy Jeffs and Dr Gabriel Byng, University of Cambridge and convenors of The Digital Pilgrim Project). Likewise, Dr Emily Guerry (University of Kent) discussed a series of vestments owned by Sens Cathedral that were reputedly worn by Becket and possibly used at Sens as contact relics.

 

A number of  significant objects pertaining to Becket originated from further afield, both geographically and chronologically. Dr Tom Nickson (Courtauld Institute of Art), for example, presented on a c. 1200 altar frontal depicting Becket’s martyrdom found in the church of San Miguel in Almazán, which bears early witness to the popularity of Becket’s cult in Spain.

Image 1, San Miguel altar

Altar frontal from the church of San Miguel in Almazán, showing Becket’s martyrdom

Becket’s later legacy was then examined. Lloyd De Beer (British Museum) assessed the sixteenth-century political and religious connotations of the saint’s martyrdom through the lens of Alberti’s The Martyr’s Picture (1581), displayed in the Venerable English College in Rome, and Naomi Speakman (British Museum) discussed Becket’s memory in post-Reformation England and his representation as an anti-martyr.

These evocative objects and themes provoked a lively concluding discussion that centred on the international nature of Becket’s cult and the extent to which the art associated with it imitated and/or innovated in order promote the saint and potency of his cult as a political tool.

Image 4, Cathedral Archives

Examining the Professions of Obedience in the Canterbury Cathedral Archives

This discussion was followed by an opportunity to see first-hand some of the extraordinary items associated with Becket. Cressida Williams, head of the Cathedral Archives and Library, had organised for an array of Becket-themed documents and objects from the Cathedral collections and various heritage organisations in Canterbury to be displayed together in the reading room of the Cathedral Archives. Among this impressive collection were two fragments of pink Tournai marble, discovered during excavations in the Cathedral grounds, which are thought to have come from the shrine of St Thomas himself. Also on display were a number of medieval seals from the Cathedral’s collections, including those of Archbishops Hubert Walter and Stephen Langton, which both depict Becket’s martyrdom. Dr Helen Gittos from the University of Kent discussed a particular treasure of the Cathedral Archive, the Professions of Obedience, a series of 170 documents now bound into a single volume that record the vows made by bishops during their consecration. These small vellum statements, which would have originally been sewn together in a continuous roll, contain the dates of bishops’ consecrations, and are thus immensely helpful in dating other contemporary documents based on a comparison of their palaeography. Becket’s entry is especially marked in the Professions by a statement in red noting his archiepiscopal status.

 

The later half of the afternoon saw the group move to the Cathedral stained glass studio, where Leonie Seliger, Head of the Stained Glass Conservation Department, led us in a discussion of the representation of Becket in the Cathedral glass. Notably, only three original thirteenth-century panels depicting Becket’s head survive, which Leonie encouraged us to find among her printed reproductions – a task that proved surprisingly difficult. We also had the opportunity to see some of medieval stained glass currently under restoration in the studio, and to hear from Leonie about the techniques that would have gone in to making these panels. A particular highlight was seeing how the colour of nine hundred year old stained glass was still bright and vivid when held up to the light.

Image 7, Sudbury's tomb

Kneeling at the resonant prayer niches in Archbishop Sudbury’s tomb, Canterbury Cathedral

A subsequent tour of the Cathedral offered a chance to see the miracle windows we had discussed in the glass studio in situ, along with the site of Becket’s shrine and several archiepiscopal and royal tombs. The tombs of Archbishops Sudbury and Mepham in the south aisle of the Choir afforded a particularly interactive experience; kneeling down at one of the vaulted prayer niches carved into the tombs’ exterior, penitents (or indeed academics) can experience an amplification not only of the music performed in the nearby Choir, but also their own whispered prayers and thoughts.

 

Professor Paul Binski (University of Cambridge) brought the study day to a close with a public lecture entitled ‘Thomas Becket and the Medieval Cult of Personality’. Drawing on many of the objects seen and discussed throughout the day, Professor Binski reflected on the idea of Becket’s ‘persona’ (as opposed to the modern notion of ‘personality’) and its importance in the formation and development of his cult. Much like a mask that can be put on or taken off, the medieval concept of an individual’s persona was related to their outer countenance, and formed by certain archetypal characteristics – both good and bad – often rooted in character types in biblical stories or saint’s lives. Becket’s persona and outer image, Professor Binski argued, was imitated in the art and architecture produced in response to his martyrdom, an aspect that was vital to the rapid dissemination and spread of the cult. Due in part to the accessibility of this image through objects made both for the elite and for the ordinary person, Becket’s persona transcended social as well as geographical boundaries, transforming his cult into a widespread, international phenomenon. Professor Binski’s concluding remarks on the appeal of the Becket’s cult in the Middle Ages had a particular resonance amidst of the full lecture theatre where the lasting legacy of Thomas Becket’s life and death was still very much felt.

Sophie Kelly

PhD Candidate, University of Kent

 

Gothic Revival, Medieval Art & the Hereford Screen

Issue 5 of British Art Studies features a One Object study of the Gothic Revival Hereford Screen. The 8 tonne metalwork structure was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and manufactured by the firm of Francis Skidmore in 1862. The collection of essays fosters discussion of the screen’s medieval models as well as its Victorian genesis.

2006AR1160_hereford_screen_cathedral_photo_custom_290x332_06200711

The Hereford Screen in Hereford Cathedral, view from North Transept, 19th century. (Image from the V&A website)

As a new and exclusively digital journal, British Art Studies’ virtual platform is celebrated through abundant interplay of text, image and audio-visual material.  It brings together seven scholars who present technical and theoretical perspectives on a single object by means of ‘traditional’ essays and short films.  This brief blog-post aims to draw attention to the medieval content of the study, notwithstanding the overall interest and coherence of all the constituent articles.

The One Object discussion is introduced by Ayla Lepine, in an essay entitled Resurrection, Re-Imagination, Reconstruction:
New Viewpoints on the Hereford Screen.

 

Essays in the discussion that focus on medieval material are:

The Hereford Screen: A Prehistory, by medievalist Matthew Reeve, guides the reader through a history of the medieval predecessors of the Hereford screen and places its production in the context of the Cathedral space and the architect’s work at Lichfield and Salisbury.

Jacqueline Jung’s contribution, a video essay entitled, The Medieval Choir Screen in Sacred Space, considers the sight-lines and sculptural relationships created by the strategically designed perforations and interior figural programmes of medieval screens and their host churches, focusing on two examples from 13th-century Italy and 15th-century Germany.

The oddly fragile, contentious choir screen, in its many historical manifestations, receives a colourful and polyphonic tribute in this One Object study. As a medieval art blog, links to the most relevant essays are given above but are, for best results, to be enjoyed with their Gothic Revival companions.

New Book Series: Christianities Before Modernity

 

Challenging the perception of Christianity as a unified and European religion before the sixteenth century, this series interrogates the traditional chronological, geographical, social, and institutional boundaries of premodern Christianity. Books in this series seek to rebuild the lived experiences and religious worlds of understudied people as well as landmark disputes and iconic figures by recovering underappreciated vernacular sources, situating localized problems and mundane practices within broader social contexts, and addressing questions framed by contemporary theoretical and methodological conversations.

Christianities Before Modernity embraces an interdisciplinary and comparative approach, publishing on history, literature, music, theater, classics, folklore, art history, archaeology, religious studies, philosophy, gender studies, anthropology, sociology, and other areas.

Grounded in original sources and informed by ongoing disciplinary disputes, this series demonstrates how premodern Christians comprised diverse and conflicted communities embedded in a religiously diverse world.

Series Editors:

Rabia Gregory, University of Missouri

Kathleen E. Kennedy, Pennsylvania State Brandywine

Susanna A. Throop, Ursinus College

Charlene Villaseñor Black, UCLA

Advisory Board:

Adnan A. Husain, Queen’s University

István Perczel, Central European University

Eyal Poleg, Queen Mary University of London

Carl S. Watkins, Magdalene College, Cambridge

Publisher: MIP, The University Press at Kalamazoo

For more information, visit: https://mip-archumanitiespress.org/series/mip/christianities-before-modernity/. For questions or to submit a proposal, please contact the acquisitions

editor, Erika Gaffney (Erika.Gaffney@arc‐humanities.org).

 

Digital library of liturgical sources

Ecclesiastical Map of Western Europe in the Middle Ages

Ecclesiastical Map of Western Europe in the Middle Ages

Digital library of liturgical sources is a new research tool developed by the Research Group of Liturgical History. The Calendar-Project is a comprehensive database of almost 200 representative European liturgical Calendars and Sanctorals. Through browsing Saints and Feasts or Dates respectively, one can gain a statistically relevant sample of where, when and which feasts were celebrated within the medieval territory of the Roman Rite. Methodically, our research is based on the same principles as the whole of USUARIUM, namely that diverse sources based on their undoubted origin provide the best way to study the range of variability of liturgical Uses. Proofreading, corrections, new sources and facilities will follow in the coming weeks.

CONTACT FOR PASSWORD: foldvary.miklos[at]btk.elte.hu
 dr. Miklós Földváry, H-1088 Budapest,
Múzeum krt. 4/F. 222.