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IMC 2015: Sessions

Session 704: Teaching Faith, Spreading Doubt: The Portrayal of Religion and the Church in Art, Drama, and Literature

Tuesday 7 July 2015, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Charlotte Steenbrugge, Centre for Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies, University of Toronto
Paper 704-aMeaning at the Margins: The Conceptual Scripture and the Interplay of Didactic Contexts in Late Medieval East Anglia
(Language: English)
Matthew E. Davis, Independent Scholar, California
Index terms: Art History - Sculpture, Hagiography, Language and Literature - Middle English, Religious Life
Paper 704-bThe Portrayal of the Church in Medieval Romances
(Language: English)
Hülya Tafli Düzgün, School of English, Erciyes University, Turkey
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Religious Life
Paper 704-cEmergent Anxieties: 15th-Century Signs of the Dis-Enchantment of the Annunciation
(Language: English)
Gary Waller, Faculty of Literature, State University of New York, Purchase
Index terms: Art History - Painting, Language and Literature - Comparative, Performance Arts - Drama, Religious Life

Looking at three expressions of medieval faith - the Clopton Chantry Chapel at Holy Trinity, Long Melford, the roof bosses of Norwich Cathedral, and the Digby Mary Magdalene, I will argue that scripture in the middle ages is less bound by the codex than by the concept of what the codex contains. This concept, informed by the multiple ways in which the church attempted to share its didactic message with the laity, allows for surprising flexibility and kept the doctrines of Christianity in keeping with local cultural practice. Finally, I will conclude that our attempts to contextualize medieval English Christianity through disciplinary lenses (and, increasingly, using software platforms that make their own assumptions regarding context based on their technical limitations and the practices of information theory rather than the text or object) puts us in danger of not understanding that conceptual scripture as the holistic it actually was.

Abstract withheld

The historicity of the Annunciation scene (Luke 1.26-38) is virtually unquestioned until early modern and Enlightenment scholars open textual, historical, and eventually philosophical questions regarding what modern New Testament scholars see as a theologoumenon, a late pre-quel, to Luke. This paper examines 15th-century pre-emergent signs of this major dislocation in Christian theology, devotion, art, and popular culture. It provides late medieval examples of the dislocating effects of greater realism in drama, perspective in painting, textual concerns (which culminate in Erasmus's variant translation of Gabriel's greeting), and devotion, suggesting that the broader culture, the 'structures of feeling', show how radical ideological changes are waiting to happen.