Session Title

Identity in Medieval Art

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Amanda Luyster, Alicia Walker

Organizer Affiliation

College of the Holy Cross, Bryn Mawr College

Presider Name

Amanda Luyster, Alicia Walker

Paper Title 1

From Signum to Imago: Identity Formation in Illustrated Charters and Cartularies

Presenter 1 Name

Shannon L. Wearing

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Institute of Fine Arts, New York Univ.

Paper Title 2

The Bamberg Rider and Medieval Construction of Imaginative Identity

Presenter 2 Name

Assaf Pinkus

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Tel Aviv Univ.

Paper Title 3

Refiguring “Masculinity” and Imperial Identity in the Menologion of Basil II (Bibl. Apost. Vat., gr. 1613)

Presenter 3 Name

Mati Meyer

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Open Univ. of Israel

Start Date

8-5-2014 7:30 PM

Session Location

Fetzer 2030

Description

Identity is by its very nature intangible, created through ephemeral social interactions and recognitions. Yet identities are also reified through objects, images, and actions, such that the material and visual worlds play an important role in constructing and communicating identity. Medieval identities seem to have crystalized in exceptional social practices such as burial and institutional ceremonial, but how were these highly constrained and potentially artificial identities relevant to everyday experiences and realities? While some identities were formulated and expressed purposefully, the interpretation of identities was not necessarily consistent with these intentions, raising the question of where we should seek to locate our own interpretive efforts. Furthermore, identities were inevitably unstable, shifting as circumstances and contexts of projection and reception changed. Identity was commonly defined through comparison and the recognition of social differences, thereby requiring interlocators who were, however, themselves in flux.

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to understanding medieval material and visual identities lies in the fact that identity as such is not often discussed in medieval texts, and sources tend to acknowledge only obliquely the role objects and monuments played in conveying identities. Given these challenges, how can we responsibly discuss identity in medieval art history? Are successful approaches limited to particular case studies? Or can broader methodologies be effectively translated across medieval cultural, geographic, and temporal divisions, as well as across the diverse media of medieval portable and monumental arts?

Amanda Luyster and Alicia Walker

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May 8th, 7:30 PM

Identity in Medieval Art

Fetzer 2030

Identity is by its very nature intangible, created through ephemeral social interactions and recognitions. Yet identities are also reified through objects, images, and actions, such that the material and visual worlds play an important role in constructing and communicating identity. Medieval identities seem to have crystalized in exceptional social practices such as burial and institutional ceremonial, but how were these highly constrained and potentially artificial identities relevant to everyday experiences and realities? While some identities were formulated and expressed purposefully, the interpretation of identities was not necessarily consistent with these intentions, raising the question of where we should seek to locate our own interpretive efforts. Furthermore, identities were inevitably unstable, shifting as circumstances and contexts of projection and reception changed. Identity was commonly defined through comparison and the recognition of social differences, thereby requiring interlocators who were, however, themselves in flux.

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to understanding medieval material and visual identities lies in the fact that identity as such is not often discussed in medieval texts, and sources tend to acknowledge only obliquely the role objects and monuments played in conveying identities. Given these challenges, how can we responsibly discuss identity in medieval art history? Are successful approaches limited to particular case studies? Or can broader methodologies be effectively translated across medieval cultural, geographic, and temporal divisions, as well as across the diverse media of medieval portable and monumental arts?

Amanda Luyster and Alicia Walker