2016 51st International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 12-15
On Friday 13 May 2016, the IAS held a reception at the International Congress of Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo from 5:15 to 6:45 pm in Room 1005 of the Fetzer Center. More information.
The IAS sponsored two sessions on the theme of New Perspectives on Medieval Rome. See the flyer.
Organizers: Marius B. Hauknes, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Johns Hopkins University; Alison Locke Perchuk, Assistant Professor of Art History, California State University Channel Islands
Digital, environmental, material, Mediterranean, sensory, spatial: these are among the recent “turns” taken by the medieval humanities, including art history. The new perspectives on the past opened by these approaches, many of which are informed by interdisciplinary research and contemporary cultural interests in the natural and built world, are fundamentally reshaping how we conceive of and study medieval art and architecture. In the field of medieval art, the city of Rome has traditionally been a key site for the formulation of innovative avenues of approach, but what are its current status and its potential in relation to the discipline’s new discourses? These two linked sessions seek to assess the impact of recent methodological developments on the study of the art, architecture, and urban forms of Rome during the long middle ages, ca. 300–1500.
New Perspectives on Medieval Rome, I
Presider: Alison Locke Perchuk, California State University Channel Islands
Friday, May 13, 1:30 PM in Fetzer 1010
Alison Locke Perchuk, opening remarks
Catherine Carver, University of Michigan, “Bound By Nolli? Cartography and Mapping Medieval Rome” Read abstract
Rome’s history has often been told through the maps of her external and internal boundaries. The Aurelian Wall has long defined the limits of the medieval city, and the erection of the Leonine Walls has represented the trials the city faced in the midst of the Middle Ages. While the city’s medieval history has been literally circumscribed by these mural moments, scholars have looked for clues to her internal development in the medieval period through her later cartographic history. The projects of Bufalini, Tempesta, and Du Pérac provide evidence of medieval structures now long erased off the map of Rome and suggestions of their relationship to the urban environment. Of all of the Early Modern cartographic projects of Rome, however, it is that of Giambatttista Nolli’s 1748 map that arguably has held pride of place as the essential resource for scholars of the city’s monuments, for Nolli’s product was the result of “modern” scientific surveying techniques and represents the first “accurate” map of the city, precisely delineating the external boundaries of each monument and the internal geographic boundaries that made up the city’s Rioni system. This paper examines the reliance on Early Modern cartographic practices as a means of understanding the urban development of medieval Rome. It calls into question the very notion of “boundary” as a means of development in the city, for in the medieval period, the boundaries of Rome were not established by streets and markers, but rather by points of association, physical and aural. It suggests that the very methodological premise by which we have approached the development of the medieval city needs to be reconsidered in light of a fluidity that defines the relationships of medieval monuments to their urban environment.
Hendrik Dey, Hunter College/CUNY, “Porticoes and Papal Ceremony at Rome: The Via Triumphalis in the Middle Ages” Read abstract
The twelfth-century Ordo of Benedict and the Liber Censuum of Cencius indicate that liturgical processions led by the popes frequently traversed a street in the southern Campus Martius/Forum Holitorium that was lined on one or both sides by continuous porticoes. Remains of these porticoes still stand near the Church of San Nicola in Carcere, and remains of nearby sections of the same porticoes have been excavated near the Temple of Bellona. They are almost certainly the remains of the arcaded porticoes that lined the route followed by triumphal processions in the later republican and imperial periods. While medieval historians and liturgists know the texts, and Roman topographers and archaeologists know the material remains, nobody has done much to put these pieces together. The striking fact is that extensive sections of the porticoes lining the ancient Via Triumphalis were not only preserved into the high Middle Ages, but indeed continued to figure prominently in the ceremonial repertoire of the Roman church. This observation raises an number of important questions about the Christian cooptation of ‘pagan’ ceremonial space in general, and in particular about what exactly the members of the papal curia who processed along this route in the twelfth century thought they were doing, and why. It also speaks in a broader sense to the maintenance of monumental ceremonial corridors established in antiquity into the Middle Ages, an topic with profound implications for our understanding of medieval urbanism in general.
John Lansdowne, Princeton University, “Image in Fragments: The Mosaic Man of Sorrows at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome” Read abstract
In a black-and-white photograph dated 1933, shattered images of bone, flesh, hair, and face rattle within the contoured physique of a well-known representation of Christ: a Byzantine micromosaic icon of the Man of Sorrows at the Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome. Crafted in fourteenth-century Byzantium and gifted to Rome ca. 1400, it was enshrined in an elaborate triptych reliquary cabinet and promoted as the original likeness of a vision of the dead Christ said to have been witnessed by Pope Gregory the Great. The photo preserves the icon in a bygone fractured state, having suffered a severe impact at an unknown point in the distant past. Such was how it was known from that moment on until 1960, when specialists reassembled the fragmented figure to fashion the object/image seen today. Cult traditions explain why, after being broken, the icon’s tesserae were never replaced and why the fragments were venerated in their own right: they equate the fabric of mosaic with the substance of sacred relics, an analogy reinforced by the icon’s reliquary, where a rectilinear grid of 212 niches—each with its own individual relic—envelops the image in its own Communion of Saints. In exhibiting the parted fragments of saints in juxtaposition with the united fragments that constitute Christ’s body, the Santa Croce icon showcases imperfect human bodily reality together with the promise of its redemption. The inbuilt tension between fragmentation and wholeness implicit in the mosaic Man of Sorrows and its significance for the papacy in post-Avignon Rome are the objects of investigation in this paper. Beginning with analysis of the icon’s material composition (drawn from firsthand study and unpublished conservation documents) and discussion of the distinctive materiality of mosaic (touching upon a Roman rhetorical tradition of equating it with relics), I examine two interconnected allegorical objectives embedded in the Santa Croce ensemble: to visualize Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and to emblematize the ecumenical union of East and West under one united Roman Church.
New Perspectives on Medieval Rome, II
Presider: Marius Hauknes, Johns Hopkins University
Friday, May 13, 3:00 PM in Fetzer 2020
Giuseppa Zanichelli, Università di Salerno, “Female Patronage in Rome in the Eleventh Century” Read abstract
Although the role of the Roman matrons was crucial for the affirmation of Christianity, for a long time its importance has been denied. The only image accepted in a male-dominated society, as was Rome from the fifth century onward, was Jerome teaching Paula and Eustochio, that is a relationship between a male teacher and a female audience. In the legal documents Roman women appear only under tutelage of men, and, consequently, every woman who reclaimed an autonomous position in the society, as Theodora episcopa or Marotia senatrix or Rofreda iudex, was subjected to misogynist criticism. In the eleventh century the changes in Roman society, thoroughly analysed by Chris Wickham in a recent monograph (2015), created a new “medium élite”, with a new program of legitimization expressed through images of the donor’s family. By comparing four different cycles of images, Santa Maria in Pallara, Santa Balbina, San Clemente and its Baptistry, and the frontispice of ms. 3210, preserved in Cesena, Biblioteca Piana, I shall try to point out the differences between attitudes, dresses, votive offerings and internal references in diachronic and synchronic perspective. To place these images in their performative contexts, I shall relate them to information that can be drawn from written documents, such as wills and memories of donations of gifts, particularly manuscripts, to churches and monasteries. If the lay patrons follow a model whose origins lie in the Roman tradition and in its legal continuity, quite different are the images from the few nunneries documented in a sporadic way and with features difficult to interpret; in fact it is not always is clear to which monastic order these female houses belonged and, consequently, what kind of rule was in place. These female houses also often had contested relations with papal authorities. A final element is the presence of foreign noblewomen in the city, as vistors and as inhabitants of Rome’s nunneries. I shall try to demonstrate how exchanges and gifts among foreign noblewomen and Roman women helped shape female monastic patronage in this very challenging time.
Angelica Federici, Cambridge University, “Female Religious Patronage in Late Medieval Rome, ca. 1200–1400” Read abstract
Although the past two decades have witnessed a substantial rise in the study of women as patrons of art, no comprehensive, in depth study has ever been devoted to the area circumscribed by the Patrimonium Petri. Yet, evidence of female religious patronage in Rome during the Late Medieval period is conspicuous. This paper will present a general survey of artistic commissions from Roman nunneries during the Late Medieval period, with particular focus on three convents; Sant’Agnese fuori le mura, SS. Cosma e Damiano and San Sisto Vecchio. The surviving evidence present in these nunneries provides us with a tantalizing glimpse of patronage in Rome by nuns on a large scale. Indeed, by ensuring that their own conventual spaces were decorated by leading painters in the latest style these high quality decorative programs confirm the nuns’ role as catalysts for a significant operation of artistic renewal in the city of Rome.
Christiane Elster, Bibliotheca Hertziana, “Papal Textile Gifts in the Late Thirteenth Century—Objects, Actors, Functions” Read abstract
In the late thirteenth century, popes commonly gave precious textiles, liturgical instruments and manuscripts to clerical institutions both inside and outside Rome. In their new locations, these artifacts became agents of a memorial and political culture focused on the Roman papacy, as the gifts were closely associated with the donor’s person, office and, in the case of the textile medium (used vestments) even with his body. Using an anthropological approach (Marcel Mauss’ gift theory and its lineage), this paper investigates papal donations of the late thirteenth century as acts that bore complex and multilayered messages. Within the rich material culture of the papal gift politics of the time, it concentrates on the textile medium and, in particular, on donations of liturgical vestments. Case studies of two copes, each from a different region of Western Europe and the Mediterranean basin, will demonstrate the diversity of material, techniques, and figurative languages employed. The “reference-function” of the donated textiles manifested itself variously, influenced both by the specific liturgical and spatial context of the new location and by the appearance of the donated objects.
Erik Inglis, Oberlin College, “Art Historical Experience in Medieval Rome” Read abstract
The notion of a medieval art historical imagination may appear oxymoronic. Belting has defined the Middle Ages as the era of the image in contrast to the era of art, and Elsner claims that art historical questions of style, attribution, and provenance are modern, not medieval. Indeed, the invention of art history in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries often looks like an index of the end of the Middle Ages. However, several practices demonstrate that even in the absence of a discipline of art history, medieval Romans cared about the kind of information we regard as art historical. These practices include attribution, historicist appreciation and emulation, interpretation, and the use of art as historical evidence. For example, when Peter Damian studied the placement of Peter and Paul in mosaics, he accounted for their the age, patronage and location in order to determine their orthodoxy and significance. Taken together, these behaviors indicate that the era of the image was not ahistorical. Crediting them with an art historical imagination gives us a better sense of how they approached old objects, and how those objects communicated in different ways as they aged.
Marius Hauknes, concluding remarks