Interested in the ways in which medieval and early modern communities have acted as participants, observers, and interpreters of events and how they ascribed meaning to them, the essays in this interdisciplinary collection explore the concept of beholding and the experiences of individual and collective beholders of violence during the period. Addressing a range of medieval and early modern art forms, including visual images, material objects, literary texts, and performances, the contributors examine the complexities of viewing and the production of knowledge within cultural, political, and theological contexts. In considering new methods to examine the process of beholding violence and the beholder's perspective, this volume addresses such questions as: How does the process of beholding function in different aesthetic conditions? Can we speak of such a thing as the 'period eye' or an acculturated gaze of the viewer? If so, does this particularize the gaze, or does it risk universalizing perception? How do violence and pleasure intersect within the visual and literary arts? How can an understanding of violence in cultural representation serve as means of knowing the past and as means of understanding and potentially altering the present?
'Violence abounds in the art and literature of medieval and early modern Europe, but what was at stake for its original beholders? And what does it mean to behold such images today? This volume puts the art of beholding under the spotlight, asking whether we may discover, in the scene of violence, its most defining characteristics. A timely and wide ranging set of meditations.' Robert Mills, King's College London
'I can state with conviction that all the essays are infinitely intriguing and that every one of them is based on exemplary research.' Renaissance Quarterly
'... specialists and advanced graduate students can read with profit these varied angles of approach to the fascinating and, at times, disturbing questions raised by the act of beholding violence...' Sixteenth Century Journal