IMC 2007: Sessions

Session 506: Walls, Windows, and Otherness: East and West

Tuesday 10 July 2007, 09.00-10.30

Moderator/Chair:Jeff Rider, Department of Romance Languages & Literatures, Wesleyan University, Connecticut
Paper 506-aThe Otherness Behind the Walls: Reading the City under Siege in Richard Coeur de Lion
(Language: English)
M. Cristina Figueredo, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York / School of English, University of Leeds
Index terms: Crusades, Language and Literature - Middle English, Military History, Social History
Paper 506-bWalls as an Urban and Rhetorical Source of Creative Energy: Medieval Towns and the City of Dis in Dante’s Inferno
(Language: English)
Federica Anichini, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts
Index terms: Architecture - Secular, Language and Literature - Italian
Paper 506-cThe Window in Byzantine Art as Metonym of Female Perceptions
(Language: English)
Mati Meyer, Department of Art History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Index terms: Art History - General, Byzantine Studies, Daily Life, Gender Studies

Paper a: The Middle English romance Richard Coeur de Lion, which tells the story of the king’s finest hour, the Third Crusade, devotes a large number of lines to describe the besieged city of Acre from outside, until the moment of the city’s capitulation, when the open gates allow the inspection of the inside of the walls. My paper shall study how the otherness perceived from the outside of Acre helps define the identity – national and otherwise – of the hero and his followers.
Paper b: Triggered by Will Alsop’s reshaping of Barnsley, England, into a medieval-like town, my paper investigates one morphological feature shared by Barnsley and the medieval town: the wall. I relate Alsop’s conception of a ‘Living Wall’ luring across the city’s threshold new creativity to medieval walls, meant as permeable margins letting new energy in. I focus on the comparison between medieval urban practices (new social groups crossing the walls and creating the city) and cultural procedures (fresh ideas entering through the glosses of a manuscript viewed as the ‘walls’ of a text) and I apply the creative function of the wall to the Divine Comedy‘s lines in which the pilgrim faces the iron walls of Dis resisting his trip, his writing, and the reader’s comprehension (Inf., VIII, 73-78).
Paper c: Images of women looking down from the height of a window appear mainly in post-iconoclastic Byzantine illuminated manuscripts and wall paintings. The paper will briefly outline the images, pertaining to the current idea that Byzantine women were mainly confined to the gynaikonitis, but also to women’s outdoor activities. The reasons – theological, philosophical, social, and cultural – behind the representation of women at the window will be discussed. The artistic motif points possibly to male perceptions of women, reflecting the given set of norms of behaviour and practice expected from them in Byzantium.