IMC 2017: Sessions

Session 1703: Worlds within Worlds: The Many Different Layers in Medieval Art and Literature

Thursday 6 July 2017, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Cathy Hume, Department of English, University of Bristol
Paper 1703-aUnity of Multi-Layered Allegory in Piers Plowman
(Language: English)
Tomonori Matsushita, Department of English, Senshu University, Tokyo
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Religious Life
Paper 1703-bOverlapping Landscapes: Past and Present Selves
(Language: English)
Claudia Wardle, Department of History of Art, University of York
Index terms: Art History - Painting, Theology
Paper 1703-cOf Monks and Birds: The Monastery's Garden as an Enclave of Otherness
(Language: English)
Katja M. Weidner, Zentrum für Mittelalter- und Renaissancestudien, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Index terms: Language and Literature - Latin, Mentalities, Monasticism
Abstract

Paper -a:
Unlike the Anglo-Saxon poem ‘The Dream of the Rood’, which concentrates on original Christianity, Piers Plowman cultivates the ‘Unity of Multi-layered Allegory’, which reflects the common life and corrupted churches of 14th-century England and simultaneously develops the new ideal of ‘Holy Church = Unity’. Langland composed Piers Plowman using traditional allegory (virtues and vices), newly created allegory (allegorized landscapes, personified foods, and the Tree of Charity), and satiric political allegory. The three characters Dowel, Dobet, and Dobest typify the abundant use of personifications in the poem. Langland created ‘Anglicized Christ = Incarnated Piers’ from ‘Vatican Christ’ not only for ordinary English Christians but also for intellectual knights and clergymen.

Paper -b:
In Byzantine iconography, it is common that a New Testament image has figures or landscape features of the Old Testament. However, the overlapping of different scriptural landscapes was a phenomenon carried forth into medieval and Renaissance Italian art. This paper will explore scenes in sacred Italian art, from the Quattrocento and earlier, in which times and places (Old Testament and New) overlap. This includes how one figure can be represented more than once in the same work, for example a Pietà scene in which Christ is simultaneously being crucified in the background or buried alongside.

Paper -c:
During the 12th century, a tale is spread through most of Europe. It is the story of a monk who gets lost in time – while listening to a bird. Instead of a short while, he happens to have listened to the paradisiacal melody for several years, so that as he reappears, nobody recognizes him anymore. Curiously enough, this incident takes place in a monastery’s garden, and as such the narrative connects both the literary traditions of ‘garden’ and the given binarity of transcendence and immanence, of here and hereafter. Thus, the problem of incommensurability gets woven into a space of in-between, and the garden emerges as an enclave of otherness.