- Edited by Elina Gertsman, Case Western Reserve University, USA
Taking a fresh look at the interconnections between medieval images, texts, theater, and practices of viewing, reading and listening, this explicitly interdisciplinary volume explores various manifestations of performance and meanings of performativity in the Middle Ages. The contributors – from their various perspectives as scholars of art history, religion, history, literary studies, theater studies, music and dance – combine their resources to reassess the complexity of expressions and definitions of medieval performance in a variety of different media. Among the topics considered are interconnections between ritual and theater; dynamics of performative readings of illuminated manuscripts, buildings and sculptures; linguistic performances of identity; performative models of medieval spirituality; social and political spectacles encoded in ceremonies; junctures between spatial configurations of the medieval stage and mnemonic practices used for meditation; performances of late medieval music that raise questions about the issues of historicity, authenticity, and historical correctness in performance; and tensions inherent in the very notion of a medieval dance performance.
Contents: Introduction: the spectrum of performances, Elina Gertsman; Part I Visual Performance: Word, Image, Body: Performance and church exterior in medieval Armenia, Christina Maranci; Framing the Apocalypse: the performance of John's Life in the Trinity Apocalypse, Richard K. Emmerson; Performing the illustrated manuscript: great reckonings in little books, Pamela Sheingorn; Performing birth, enacting death: unstable bodies in late medieval devotion, Elina Gertsman. Part II Devotional Performance: Preaching, Prayer, Vision: Performing the Gospel stories: Hildegard of Bingen's dramatic exegesis in the Expositiones Euangeliorum, Beverly Mayne Kienzle; Performance of the Passion: the enactment of devotion in the later Middle Ages, Carolyn Muessig; Women's texts and performances in the medieval Southern Low Countries, Mary Suydam; The space of Christic performance: Theresa of Avila through the lens of Michel de Certeau, Mary Frohlich. Part III Social Performance: Identity, Language, Authority: The hidden exilarch: power and performance in a medieval Jewish ceremony, Jonathan Decter; Desire, deception and display: linguistic performance in Jehan de Saintré, Daisy Delogu; Points of tension: performing Je in Jean Bouchet's Jugement Poetic de l'Honneur Femenin (1538), Helen Swift; 'Taken by night from its tomb': triumph, dissent, and danse macabre in early modern France, Rebecca Zorach. Part IV Lived Performance: Theater, Dance, Music: The medieval religious plays – ritual or theatre?, Erika Fischer-Lichte; Framing the Passion: mansion staging as visual mnemonic, Glenn Ehrstine; Performing our practices: between music and musicology, Yossi Maurey; Dance performance in the late Middle Ages: a contested space, Jennifer Nevile; Bibliography; Index.
About the Editor: Elina Gertsman is Assistant Professor of Art History at Case Western Reserve University, USA. She has written on macabre imagery, and on the relationship between medieval art and drama.
Reviews: 'In this volume, Elina Gertsman brings together a diverse yet coherent set of essays that engage important historical, perceptual, and methodological questions. Modern generic categories are subordinated to interdisciplinary investigation, so that specific manifestations of performance in its more obvious forms (song, ritual, drama, dance) emerge as participants in a much larger culture shaped by visual vocabularies, language, embodiment, and space. Individual contributors both use and critique prevailing scholarship in valuable ways, and the collection as a whole models the responsible application of postmodern critical theory to the understanding of medieval artifacts. This is a significant contribution to an emerging field of enquiry, and could even stand as an introduction to it.'
Carol Symes, Department of History, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, author of A Common Stage: Theater and Public Life In Medieval Arras
'Visualizing Medieval Performance reads as an extended conversation on the nature of medieval performance among medievalists from a variety of disciplines. The sixteen essays presented here provide insight into the performative practices that informed the production and reception of medieval texts of all kinds: be they spoken, visual, or enacted. Each contribution moves us further away from the text-based scholarship on which studies of medieval theater primarily have focused to stress the visual nature of medieval texts and the diverse ways they engaged their audiences. As we follow this conversation through a wide range of media, historical examples, and theoretical models, we arrive at an expanded definition of medieval performativity, as well as the conviction that medieval culture was fundamentally and distinctly "performance oriented."'
Laura Weigert, Department of Art History, Rutgers University, author of Weaving Sacred Stories: French Choir Tapestries and the Performance of Clerical Identity
‘… commendable for its range of subjects and approaches, and for its engagement of both the theories and practices of performance, rooted in concrete, historical case studies.… an unparalleled introduction to the broad ranges of the theories, practices, and perceptions of medieval performances… a rare achievement in its thorough interrogation of the ways in which contemporary critical theory can be responsibly extended to the study of the Middle Ages’. CAA.Reviews
‘The lavishly illustrated book is splendidly produced – as one is used from Ashgate that continues to be a first-rate publishing house.’ International Review of Biblical Studies
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