1st Edition

Negotiating Secular and Sacred in Medieval Art
Christian, Islamic, and Buddhist

ISBN 9781138274983
Published October 13, 2016 by Routledge
242 Pages

USD $59.95

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Book Description

Offering original analysis of the convergence between 'sacred' and 'secular' in medieval works of art and architecture, this collection explores both the usefulness and limitations of these terms for describing medieval attitudes. The modern concepts of 'sacred' and 'secular' are shown to be effective as scholarly tools, but also to risk imposing false dichotomies. The authors consider medieval material culture from a broad perspective, addressing works of art and architecture from England to Japan, and from the seventh to the fifteenth century. Although the essays take a variety of methodological approaches they are unified in their emphasis on the continuing and necessary dialectic between sacred and secular. The contributors consciously frame their interpretations in terms and perspectives derived from the Middle Ages, thereby demonstrating how the present art-historical terminology and conceptual frameworks can obscure the complexity of medieval life and material culture. The resonance among essays opens possibilities for productive cross-cultural study of an issue that is relevant to a diversity of cultures and sub-periods. Introducing an innovative approach to the literature of the field, this volume complicates and enriches our understanding of social realities across a broad spectrum of medieval worlds.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: Mapping the heavens and treading the earth: negotiating secular and sacred in medieval art, Alicia Walker and Amanda Luyster; Chivalric narratives and devotional experience in the Taymouth Hours, Kathryn A. Smith; Merging heavenly court and earthly council in trecento Venice, Caroline A. Wamsler; Divine images and earthly authority at the Chora parekklesion in Constantinople, Galina Tirnanic; Classical constellations in Carolingian codices: investigating the celestial imagery of Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, MS 3307, Eric Ramírez-Weaver; Spaces of convergence: Christian monasteries and Umayyad architecture in Greater Syria, Lara Tohme; Challenging the sacred landscape of Byzantine Cappadocia, Veronica Kalas; Pilgrimage for pleasure: time and space in late-medieval Japanese painting, Samuel Crowell Morse; Select bibliography; Index.

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Alicia Walker is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Amanda Luyster is a Lecturer in the Department of Visual Arts at the College of the Holy Cross.


'Overall, the editors have produced a noteworthy collection both in its structure and scope, supported by a lavish and relevant iconographic corpus. I enjoyed reading all of the essays, and I appreciated the editorial description of the central issue and framing of new critical approaches. I also liked the fact that Walker and Luyster point out the "work-in-progress" quality of their anthology. Far from simply providing new terms to supplant the old dichotomous opposition between sacred and secular, their reading essentially highlights the limits of too strict a distinction while at the same time acknowledging the existence and even the relevance of the two categories (1-2). And the essays included in the collection reiterate this critical stance since they all, in very different ways, are not limited to an essential, trite dismantlement but engage in a much more difficult task: the conscious reconstruction of more fluid, morphemic terms to designate differing trends in objects which were not simply the result of the skillful handling of chisels and brushes, but derived from a multitude of social, historical, political, economic, literary, geographic and artistic trends.' The Medieval Review