Matching Items (15)

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Wild Woman versus she-Dragon: Maternity, Violence and the Monstrous-Feminine in the Geese Book

Description

Medieval European manuscripts contain a wealth of diverse and imaginative collections of illuminations. The margins are a perfect playground for unique, unusual and fantastic creatures, including an illuminated gradual from

Medieval European manuscripts contain a wealth of diverse and imaginative collections of illuminations. The margins are a perfect playground for unique, unusual and fantastic creatures, including an illuminated gradual from 1510 known as the Geese Book. In this paper, I have examined a single illumination from the book in depth. It depicts two female monsters, a wild woman and a female dragon, fighting desperately over a wild child. These two females are not only monsters and fighters, but also mothers. The unusual juxtaposition of the nurturing aspect of maternity and the brutal nature of combat is used to facilitate a discussion about women, violence, and the nature of the monstrous-feminine. The way women are presented and constructed in horror is far different than their male counterparts, as gendered expectations differ wildly. These manuscript illuminations contain combat and potentially horrific situations, but nearly always come off as humorous. I will also be discussing the importance of humor in difficult and potentially problematic situations. Comedy, particularly dark comedy, can scrutinize aspects of culture and society that may otherwise be considered improper taboo to touch upon. Unusual women behaving in an improper manner is a rare subject, and one that deserves to be discussed. By going through historical legends that also combine the usually disparate themes of maternity and violence, I attempt to both explain the image in the Geese Book and frame it in a broader context. The monstrous women from the illumination are compared to both artworks contemporary to the gradual and more modern media. By connecting representations from both the Middle Ages and today, we can better understand where feminine constructions originated and how they have changed. Today, portrayals of the monstrous-feminine have warped traditional maternal archetypes and are unafraid to lay bare the bizarre and grotesque potential of motherhood.

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  • 2018-05

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Virtuous Vixens: The Erotic Depiction of Icons of Chastity in Renaissance Art

Description

This thesis focuses on the erotic depictions of Lucretia and Susanna in Renaissance art. Both noted for displaying exemplary chastity, Lucretia and Susanna gained popularity as Christian and secular role

This thesis focuses on the erotic depictions of Lucretia and Susanna in Renaissance art. Both noted for displaying exemplary chastity, Lucretia and Susanna gained popularity as Christian and secular role models for women in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. My examination of the heroines addresses the seductive portrayal of these women in painting, which seemingly contradicts the essence of their celebrity. The images specifically analyzed in this thesis include: Lucas Cranach the Elder's Lucretia from 1525, Lucretia from 1533, and Venus from 1532 as well as Tintoretto's Susanna and the Elders and Annibale Carracci's Susanna and the Elders. The scope of my thesis includes both textual and visual analyses of the myths/figures and the disparity that arises between them. Employing Lucretia and Susanna as examples, my aim is to demonstrate a subtle subversion occurring within images of powerful women that ultimately strips them of their power.

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Date Created
  • 2013-05

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Mirrors and fears: humans in the bestiary

Description

The medieval bestiary is often simply described as a moralized "encyclopedia of animals," however, these so-called "books of beasts" were made for humans, by humans, about humans. It is therefore

The medieval bestiary is often simply described as a moralized "encyclopedia of animals," however, these so-called "books of beasts" were made for humans, by humans, about humans. It is therefore surprising that one common pictorial subject of the bestiary has been left unexamined: humans. By viewing bestiary images through this lens, one may easily see man's underlying and unresolved struggle to maintain dominance over the beasts, and the Others projected onto them, thereby ensuring that "the (hu)man" remains a discrete definition. This study begins as the bestiary does, with the Naming of the Animals. Illustrations of Adam as a king, bestowing names of his choosing upon tame beasts express a kind of nostalgia for a now-lost time when humanity was secure in their identity as non-animal. This security no longer exists in the postlapsarian world, nor in the bestiary images following these scenes. In an attempt to maintain the illusion of dominion, many bestiary illuminations forego simple descriptive images in favor of gory hunting scenes. However, these conspicuous declarations of dominion only serve to highlight the fragility of the physical form, and even demonstrate the frailty of the human (male, Christian) identity. One such example is MS Bodley 764's boar illumination, in which the animal is killed at the hands of male hunters. This thesis unpacks this image of dominion in order to reveal the associated insecurities regarding race, gender, and species that lie beneath the surface. Subsequently, the study turns to the many bestiary images depicting human bodies brutally fragmented within the jaws of an animal. Anthropophagous bestiary animals often carry fears of the gender and ethnic Other; despite the bestiary's posturing of order and hierarchy, both the human body and identity are easily consumed and subsumed into the ever-present animal/Other. Just as in life, the human figures in the bestiary struggle to establish unquestioned dominion, only to be constantly undercut by the abject. By using a psychoanalytic approach to the human bodies of the bestiary, this study will explore how this imagery reflects the ambiguous position and definition of the human.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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Mythological Women and Sex: Transgression in Christian and Buddhist Religious Imagery

Description

Many religious textual accounts describe provocative women: The Great Whore

from the Apocalypse, Saint Mary Magdalene from the New Testament, and the

Daughters of Mara from the Buddhist tradition are all accused

Many religious textual accounts describe provocative women: The Great Whore

from the Apocalypse, Saint Mary Magdalene from the New Testament, and the

Daughters of Mara from the Buddhist tradition are all accused of fornication or the

seduction of men. However, when artists have depicted these subjects, the women are

rarely shown transgressing in the ways the texts describe. The Great Whore is often

masculinized and shown as the equal of kings, Mary Magdalene assumes divergent

attitudes about prostitution in early Renaissance Europe, and the Daughters of Mara are

comparable to other Buddhist deities, recognizable only from the surrounding narrative.

Therefore, in this inquiry, I seek out the ways that artists have manipulated misogynistic

religious narratives and introduced their own fears, concerns, and interpretations.

Artistic deviations from the text indicate a sensitivity to cultural values beyond

the substance of their roles within the narrative. Both the Great Whore and her virtuous

counterpart, the Woman Clothed in the Sun, have agency, and the ways they are shown to

use their agency determines their moral status. Mary Magdalene, the patron saint of

prostitutes and a reformed sinner, is shown with iconographical markers beyond just

prostitution, and reveals the ways in which Renaissance artists conceptualized prostitution. In

the last case study, the comparison between the Daughters and the Buddhist savioresses,

the Taras, demonstrates that Himalayan artists did not completely subscribe to the textual

formulations of women as inherently iniquitous. Ultimately, these works of art divulge

not just interpretations of the religious traditions, but attitudes about women in general,

and the power they wielded in their respective contexts.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2020

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A woman's agency reflected in objects: a donor profile of Queen Sancha of Castile y León

Description

The Iberian Queen Sancha (r.1037-1065), of the kingdom of León and Castile has received minimal attention from scholars. As the last Leonese heir, Sancha had the sole responsibility of ensuring

The Iberian Queen Sancha (r.1037-1065), of the kingdom of León and Castile has received minimal attention from scholars. As the last Leonese heir, Sancha had the sole responsibility of ensuring that imperial traditions of patronage never waned. Her acts of giving and the commissioning of objects have been attributed by (male) scholars as an obligation to legitimize her husband, Fernando I of Castile. Persuasive evidence found in documents suggests that her involvement in donation transactions was predicated on more than formality. My thesis argues that Sancha used the act of giving, the act of commissioning objects, language in documents, and the powerful institution of the infantazgo, to assert an agency identical to her male predecessors to gain political influence. Creating a “donor profile” of Sancha that examines the total of her donating practices enables the exploration of her conscious and unconscious motives for donation. My investigation into these acts supports a new theory that the building construction projects of Sancha and Fernando I began at the beginning of their reign rather than after 1053 as is currently believed. As the first woman to use the titles regine emperatriz and regina totius Hispaniae, Queen Sancha did more than just legitimize her husband, she built a legacy that established a new female center of power in León that endured until the thirteenth century.

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Date Created
  • 2017

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Illuminating the medieval hunt: power and performance in Gaston Fébus' Le livre de chasse

Description

Vivid illuminations of the aristocratic hunt decorate Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS. fr. 616, an early fifteenth-century illuminated manuscript of Le livre de chasse composed by Gaston Fébus, Count of

Vivid illuminations of the aristocratic hunt decorate Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS. fr. 616, an early fifteenth-century illuminated manuscript of Le livre de chasse composed by Gaston Fébus, Count of Foix and Viscount of Béarn (1331-1391 C.E.), in 1389. Gilded miniatures visualize the medieval park, an artificial landscape designed to facilitate the ideal noble chase, depicting the various methods to pursue, capture, and kill the prey within as well as the ritual dismemberment of animals. Medieval nobles participated in the social performance of the hunt to demonstrate their inclusion in the collective identity of the aristocracy. The text and illuminations of Le livre de chasse contributed to the codification of the medieval noble hunt and became integral to the formation of cultural memory which served as the foundation for the establishment of the aristocracy as different from other parts of society in the Middle Ages. This study contributes new information through examination of previously ignored sources as well as new analysis through application of critical theoretical frameworks to interpret the manuscript as a meaning-making object within the visual culture of the Middle Ages and analysis of the illuminations reveals the complexities surrounding one of the most important acts of performance for the medieval elite.

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Date Created
  • 2017

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Revelations to Others in Medieval Hagiographical and Visionary Texts

Description

This dissertation concerns “revelations to others” in medieval hagiographical and visionary texts. Revelations to others take many forms—spiritual visions, dreams, visual and tactile witnessing of miracles, auditions—but they all are

This dissertation concerns “revelations to others” in medieval hagiographical and visionary texts. Revelations to others take many forms—spiritual visions, dreams, visual and tactile witnessing of miracles, auditions—but they all are experienced by someone other than, or in addition to, the holy person who is the subject of the text. This type of revelatory experience is common and, I argue, highly significant. Most straightforwardly, revelations to others serve to further authenticate holy women or men, confirming their devotion to God, their miraculous abilities, and/or their favored position with Christ. But revelations to others do much more than authorize the visionary. They voice the possibility that one could learn to have visions, which has interesting connections to modern ideas of guided seeing, such as meditation. They suggest circumstances in which holy persons served as devotional objects, helping their viewers achieve a higher level of religious experience in a similar manner to stained glass windows, crucifixes, or images of Veronica’s veil. For women, revelations to others sometimes offer access to spaces in which they could not physically step foot, such as the altar or the bedrooms of abbots. Moreover, by showcasing the variety of persons participating in divine experiences (monks and nuns, lay persons, nobility, and sometimes other holy persons), revelations to others speak to the larger visionary communities in which these holy persons lived. Through a series of close readings, this dissertation creates a taxonomy of revelations to others and argues for their necessity in understanding the collaborative nature of medieval spirituality.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2019

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From the divine to the diabolical: the peacock in medieval and renaissance art

Description

Peacocks are ubiquitous in art. Artists from societies across the globe, undoubtedly attracted to the male peafowl’s colorful plumage and unique characteristics, used images of the bird to form visual

Peacocks are ubiquitous in art. Artists from societies across the globe, undoubtedly attracted to the male peafowl’s colorful plumage and unique characteristics, used images of the bird to form visual semantics intended to aid in the understanding of a work of art. This was particularly the case in Europe, where depictions of peacocks appeared in Christian art from the onset of the continent’s dominant religion. Beginning in Early Christianity, peacocks symbolized the opportunity for an eternal life in heaven enabled by Christ’s sacrificial death. Illustrations of peacocks were so frequent and widespread that they became the standard symbol for eternal life in Christian art consistently centered on recounting the stories of Christ’s birth and death.

Overtime, peacock iconography evolved to include thematic diversity, as artists used the peacock’s recognizable physical attributes for the representation of new themes based on traditional ideas. Numerous paintings contain angels wings covered in the iridescent eyespots located on the male peafowl’s tail feathers. Scientifically known as ocelli, eyespots painted on the wings of angels became a widespread motif during the Renaissance. Artists also recurrently depicted the peacock’s crest on figures of Satan or Lucifer in both paintings and prints. Indicative of excessive pride, a believed characteristic of peacocks, the crest is used as an identifying characteristic of the fallen angel, who was cast from heaven because of his pride.

Although the peacock is a known iconographic motif in medieval and Renaissance art history, no specific monographic study on peacock iconography exists. Likewise, representations of separate and distinctive peacock characteristics in Christian

art have been considerably ignored. Yet, the numerous artworks depicting the peacock and its attributes speak to the need to gain a better understanding of the different strategies for peacock allegory in Christian art. This thesis provides a comprehensive understanding of peacock iconography, minimizing the mystery behind the artistic intentions for depicting peacocks, and allowing for more thorough readings of medieval and Renaissance works that utilize peafowl imagery.

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Date Created
  • 2016

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Marginalia of the Geese book: inside and outside the borders

Description

The early-16th-century manuscript commonly known as the Geese Book (New York, Morgan Library, M. 905) contains the entire Mass liturgy sung by the boys choir of the parish church of

The early-16th-century manuscript commonly known as the Geese Book (New York, Morgan Library, M. 905) contains the entire Mass liturgy sung by the boys choir of the parish church of St. Lorenz in Nuremberg, Germany prior to the Reformation. This thesis addresses the location and function of the sometimes enigmatic marginalia and the decorated or historiated initials in this large two-volume gradual. The paper begins with an analytical case study of a scene within the margins in which a wild woman, wielding a club, confronts a female dragon who has taken a child. Subsequently the size, subject matter, and physical positioning of the illuminations and decorations within the book and on its pages are examined with respect to the gradual's liturgical contents. It is hoped that through such methods, new conversations may begin as to the roles that marginalia and decoration may play within the multiple organizational schemes within a musical text of this kind.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2013

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Tales of stone: collecting archaic Chinese jades in the U.S., 1901-1950

Description

The history of jade in many ways reflects the evolution of Chinese civilization, encompassing its entire history and geographical extent and the many cultural traditions associated with the various regions

The history of jade in many ways reflects the evolution of Chinese civilization, encompassing its entire history and geographical extent and the many cultural traditions associated with the various regions that have finally been brought together in the unity of present-day China. The archaic jade collections investigated in this thesis, from an archaeological point of view, primarily consist of pieces from the late Neolithic through early historic era, named the "Jade Age" by academics. Although well-researched museum catalogues of archaic Chinese jades have been widely published by major museums in the United States, they are mostly single collection oriented. It is, then, necessary to conduct research examining the overall picture of collecting practices in the U.S. Given the proliferation of fake early jades, this study will provide an essential academic reference for researchers, students, and the present art market. This thesis seeks to explore how shifting tastes, political climates, and personal ambitions, as well as various opportunities and personalities, were instrumental factors in shaping these important collections of archaic Chinese jades in the U.S. today.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014