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IMC 2009: Sessions

Session 1116: Heresy and Bodily Practice, II: Sex, Dissidence, and Exclusion

Wednesday 15 July 2009, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Catherine Rider, Department of History, University of Exeter
Paper 1116-aSex, Violence, and Other Definitely Unorthodox Sins: Images of Eternal Punishment
(Language: English)
Ann Montgomery Jones, Sarum Seminar, California
Index terms: Art History - General, Lay Piety, Theology
Paper 1116-b'Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth': Images of Coitus in Late Medieval Manuscripts
(Language: English)
Polina Shtemler, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva
Index terms: Art History - General, Daily Life, Gender Studies, Sexuality

The papers in this session explore the powerful connection between questions of religious orthodoxy and deviance, the licit and the prohibited in sexual activity.

Paper -a:
Deadly sins were not necessarily heresy but were certainly counter to orthodoxy. The definition of these sins changed over the medieval period, and thus depictions also changed. Images of the Last Judgment became prominently placed for all to contemplate. Beyond flames shown in many works, punishments range from a demon's kick on the 9th-century Cross of Muiredach to detailed retribution for specific sins on the late 15th-century wall at Albi. Images from a variety of media and regions and a wide range of dates are examined to consider the question: How is the consequence of deadly sin depicted?

Paper -b:
Images of sexual acts, that were so common in art of Antiquity, disappeared completely as Christianity became official religion of the Roman Empire. Nevertheless, images of Coitus started to appear in illuminated manuscripts between the 13th and 15th centuries, when the cult of Holy Family became stronger and the Church developed more positive attitude toward the ethics of family and producing offspring.
These sexual depictions were not intended to create an erotic image, but rather reflected the Church and medicine views about the 'ideal' sexual act that results in conception. The main didactic goal behind these images was to instruct the noble patrons of these manuscripts in producing heirs.