Problems in Medieval Art: The Body of Christ in Late Medieval Visual Culture
W 1:00-4:00pm
210 Tappan
3 Credit Seminar

Pictorialized in a variety of images, some striking, others subtle, as well as being dramatically staged during the audio-visual spectacle of the Mass, the body of Christ was at the very heart of late medieval spirituality and devotion. This seminar explores a broad spectrum of images, objects, texts and rituals associated with the cult of Corpus Christi in the later Middle Ages. We will thus look at lurid evocations of Christ's suffering humanity, such as the Man of Sorrows, extensive Passion narratives, found, for instance, in Books of Hours, and complex allegorical representations, for example the 'Mystic Winepress' or the 'Host Fountain.' We will also examine a plethora of liturgical objects designed to house, display and evaluate Christ's real-present body within the late medieval church building, such as eucharistic monstrances or tabernacles. Our analysis of the visual material will be complemented by a discussion of contemporary texts, drawn for instance from the context of sacramental theology or homiletic writing. We will also benefit from the existence of a rich body of secondary literature, touching on aspects as diverse as medieval notions of the human body (Caroline Walker Bynum), attitudes toward (homo)sexuality (Karma Lochrie), female spirituality (Jeffery Hamburger), and scholastic theories of real presence and transubstantiation (Miri Rubin). A rudimentary knowledge of Latin is desirable, but by no means essential. It is hoped that this seminar will attract students with different backgrounds, especially art history (medieval, Renaissance, but also modern/contemporary), theology and medieval/early modern history. Participation (includes two short reports on articles in a foreign language)--50% Research paper of ca. 22-25 pages--50%. Estimated cost of materials: less than $50.