Session Title

Reassessing Kantorowicz's The King's Two Bodies: Representations of Secular Power in Word and Image

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Shannon L. Wearing, Melanie Hanan

Organizer Affiliation

Institute of Fine Arts, New York Univ., Stern College for Women, Yeshiva Univ.

Presider Name

Shannon L. Wearing, Melanie Hanan

Paper Title 1

Usque ad celum erectus: Ernst Kantorowicz's Interpretation of the Frontispiece of the Aachen Gospels and Its Consequences for the Discipline of Art History

Presenter 1 Name

Johannes von Müller

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Warburg Institute, Univ. of London

Paper Title 2

The Queen's Two Faces: The Portraiture of Elizabeth I of England

Presenter 2 Name

Emilia Olechnowicz (Congress Travel Award Winner)

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Instytut Sztuki, Polska Akademia Nauk

Paper Title 3

The Shah's Two Bodies? Metaphor, Materiality, and Eros in Persianate Depictions of Kingship

Presenter 3 Name

Michael Chagnon

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Japan Society Gallery

Start Date

12-5-2016 1:30 PM

Session Location

Schneider 1345

Description

Since its publication in 1957, Ernst Kantorowicz’s The King’s Two Bodies has achieved canonical status in the field of medieval history. This sweeping account of medieval political theology describes how the king came to be perceived as a gemina persona, possessing both a “body natural” (material and mortal) and a “body politic” (immaterial and immortal). While art historians frequently cite the book in their analyses of medieval iconography, many scholars have criticized Kantorowicz’s study for a variety of perceived faults, in particular for being reductive or anachronistic, as epitomized by its application of an early modern (Tudor) political theory to earlier centuries. The papers presented in this session will critically engage with Kantorowicz’s paradigm of the king’s two bodies in order to reassess its benefits and/or limitations as a means of interpreting medieval texts and images. The session aims to interrogate Kantorowicz’s methods and conclusions, to examine the utility of the “two bodies” as a hermeneutic paradigm, and to consider the implications of this provocative book for twenty-first-century scholarship.

Melanie Hanan , Shannon Wearing

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May 12th, 1:30 PM

Reassessing Kantorowicz's The King's Two Bodies: Representations of Secular Power in Word and Image

Schneider 1345

Since its publication in 1957, Ernst Kantorowicz’s The King’s Two Bodies has achieved canonical status in the field of medieval history. This sweeping account of medieval political theology describes how the king came to be perceived as a gemina persona, possessing both a “body natural” (material and mortal) and a “body politic” (immaterial and immortal). While art historians frequently cite the book in their analyses of medieval iconography, many scholars have criticized Kantorowicz’s study for a variety of perceived faults, in particular for being reductive or anachronistic, as epitomized by its application of an early modern (Tudor) political theory to earlier centuries. The papers presented in this session will critically engage with Kantorowicz’s paradigm of the king’s two bodies in order to reassess its benefits and/or limitations as a means of interpreting medieval texts and images. The session aims to interrogate Kantorowicz’s methods and conclusions, to examine the utility of the “two bodies” as a hermeneutic paradigm, and to consider the implications of this provocative book for twenty-first-century scholarship.

Melanie Hanan , Shannon Wearing