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IMC 2016: Sessions

Session 207: Debating Relics: Reflections on Relics in the Middle Ages and Problems of Methodology, II - Relics and Writing

Monday 4 July 2016, 14.15-15.45

Sponsor:NWO-VIDI Project 'Mind Over Matter: Debates about Relics as Sacred Objects, c. 350 - c. 1150'
Organiser:Janneke Raaijmakers, Afdeling Middeleeuwse Geschiedenis, Universiteit Utrecht
Moderator/Chair:Janneke Raaijmakers, Afdeling Middeleeuwse Geschiedenis, Universiteit Utrecht
Paper 207-aHidden Bones in Altars and Sculptures: Invisible Objects as Mediators to the Transcendence
(Language: English)
Hedwig Röckelein, Kulturwissenschaftliches Zentrum, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Index terms: Archaeology - Artefacts, Art History - General, Hagiography, Liturgy
Paper 207-bStatues as Relics
(Language: English)
Anthony Lappin, Department of Spanish, National University of Ireland, Maynooth
Index terms: Art History - Sculpture, Hagiography, Liturgy, Theology
Paper 207-cThe Need for Observing Relics: Reflections on the Implications of a Secondary Adjustment to a Late Romanesque Arm-Reliquary
(Language: English)
Marie Thorpstrup Laursen, Middelalder, Renæssance og Numismatik, Nationalmuseet, Købnhavn
Index terms: Archaeology - Artefacts, Art History - Decorative Arts, Hagiography, Theology

Relics were often accompanied by labels, lists and inscriptions which denoted the content of a deposit, authenticated it, or preserved the memory of the ceremony during which the relics had been placed inside a reliquary or an altar. Modern scholars often understand the meaning of these written tokens to have been exclusively commemorative or administrative. However, these writings did not only serve as memory aids or documentary evidence. Seen within the contexts of devotional activity, they were also a form of 're-presentation' which mediated the religious experience and guided the perception of relics. Without wishing to deny the pragmatic use of these sources, this session would like to investigate other meaning(s) of the act of writing, for example as a powerful device able to make the relic present in a sensible level and to disclose its meaning to the potential readers. Furthermore, we would like to invite scholars to reflect upon methods of investigation that may help us to understand the meaning of writing in relation to relics, and problems we encounter during this process. How do we know what writing meant to audiences in the Middle Ages? How should we interpret the absence of (exterior) in-scriptional records and labels in altars or reliquaries, in relation to the ways in which a relic was conceived and perceived by contemporaries? And how should we deal with these written sources when information on their physical setting is lost or incomplete?