Bringing together artifacts, texts, and practices within an interpretive framework that stresses the cultural work performed by saints, Kathleen Ashley presents a comparative study of the cults of the medieval Sainte Foy at a number of the sites where she was especially venerated.
This book analyzes how each cult site produced the saint it needed, appropriating or creating whatever was required to that end. Ashley’s approach is thoroughly interdisciplinary, incorporating visual, religious, medieval, and women’s and gender studies as well as literary studies and social history. She uses the theoretical framework of "cultural work" to analyze how the cult of Sainte Foy was sponsored and received by specific groups in different locales in Europe. The book is comprehensive in terms of historical as well as geographical range, tracing the history of the cult from the early Middle Ages into the present day. It also includes historiographical analysis, examining the way the cults of Sainte Foy have been represented in various historical accounts. Ashley’s narrative challenges the boundary between "elite" and "popular" culture and complicates the traditional vernacular vs. Latin language binary. A chief aim of the study is to show how "art" objects always operated in conjunction with other cultural texts to construct a saint’s cult. The volume is heavily illustrated, showing artifacts such as stained-glass windows and wall paintings which are not readily available from any other source.
This book will be of special interest to scholars in art history, medieval history, gender studies, and religion.
Table of Contents
Introduction : appropriation and the cultural work of saints 1 Conques: creation of a ritual center 2 Sainte Foy and ecclesiastical agendas 3 The saint as patron of individuals 4 Celebrating noble patronage of Foy’s cults 5 The saint in popular piety
Kathleen Ashley is Professor of English (Emerita) at the University of Southern Maine, USA.