Session Title

Mit manigir slachti wunnin: The Politics of Pleasure in the Holy Roman Empire

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Luke Fidler

Organizer Affiliation

Univ. of Chicago

Presider Name

Luke Fidler

Paper Title 1

"Drawn in Ink, with Love": Desire in Looking At and Looking Back

Presenter 1 Name

Evan A. Gatti

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Elon Univ.

Paper Title 2

All the Single Ladies: The Pleasures and Perils of Female Autonomy in Konrad's Büchlein von der geistlichen Gemahelschaft

Presenter 2 Name

Jacqueline E. Jung

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Yale Univ.

Paper Title 3

Marriage, Chastity, and Advice in Ottonian and Carolingian Royal Education

Presenter 3 Name

Roland Black

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Univ. of Chicago

Paper Title 4

Respondent

Presenter 4 Name

Joseph Salvatore Ackley

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Univ. of Arkansas-Fayetteville

Start Date

11-5-2019 1:30 PM

Session Location

Bernhard 204

Description

The twelfth-century poem Das Lob Salomons describes how King Solomon decorated the temple “with much to delight the eyes” [mit manigir slachti wunnin]. Although Solomon’s Temple was repeatedly invoked as both exegetical object and architectural influence throughout the Middle Ages, this casual reference to ocular enjoyment only hints at the degree to which pleasure itself became a topic of interest in medieval aesthetic, moralizing, and political discourses. Bernard of Clairvaux’s famous salvoes in the Apologia ad Guillelmum attest the virulence with which forms of beholding that might entail delight could be condemned. Pleasure was a heavily contested category.

Beyond the charged politics of medieval art and theology, conspicuous consumption and the performance of pleasure also played a key role in the making of social identity and the maintenance of rule in the Holy Roman Empire. From the elaborate hôchgezît, which might be staged by nobles or emperors on occasions like a martial victory (e.g. Frederick Barbarossa’s defeat of Tortona in 1155 CE) or a religious holiday (e.g. Welf VI’s feast near Augsburg for Pentecost in 1175 CE), to the presentation of luxury gifts or the production of toys and games for less elite audiences, pleasure frequently served as a medium for self-fashioning. Delight—and its regulation—was never simply a personal issue however, but a medium for marking, reinforcing, or undermining power relations. Moreover, given the key roles that medieval sources have played in some of the most conceptually-sophisticated accounts of pleasure written by twentieth-century scholars, including Mikhail Bakhtin, Georges Bataille, Pierre Bourdieu, and Johan Huizinga, robust historiographical revisions of how we should approach medieval enjoyment’s political efficacy are urgently needed.

Taking up these intersecting problems, this session will examine the distinctive contours of pleasure and politics in the Holy Roman Empire. Luke A. Fidler

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May 11th, 1:30 PM

Mit manigir slachti wunnin: The Politics of Pleasure in the Holy Roman Empire

Bernhard 204

The twelfth-century poem Das Lob Salomons describes how King Solomon decorated the temple “with much to delight the eyes” [mit manigir slachti wunnin]. Although Solomon’s Temple was repeatedly invoked as both exegetical object and architectural influence throughout the Middle Ages, this casual reference to ocular enjoyment only hints at the degree to which pleasure itself became a topic of interest in medieval aesthetic, moralizing, and political discourses. Bernard of Clairvaux’s famous salvoes in the Apologia ad Guillelmum attest the virulence with which forms of beholding that might entail delight could be condemned. Pleasure was a heavily contested category.

Beyond the charged politics of medieval art and theology, conspicuous consumption and the performance of pleasure also played a key role in the making of social identity and the maintenance of rule in the Holy Roman Empire. From the elaborate hôchgezît, which might be staged by nobles or emperors on occasions like a martial victory (e.g. Frederick Barbarossa’s defeat of Tortona in 1155 CE) or a religious holiday (e.g. Welf VI’s feast near Augsburg for Pentecost in 1175 CE), to the presentation of luxury gifts or the production of toys and games for less elite audiences, pleasure frequently served as a medium for self-fashioning. Delight—and its regulation—was never simply a personal issue however, but a medium for marking, reinforcing, or undermining power relations. Moreover, given the key roles that medieval sources have played in some of the most conceptually-sophisticated accounts of pleasure written by twentieth-century scholars, including Mikhail Bakhtin, Georges Bataille, Pierre Bourdieu, and Johan Huizinga, robust historiographical revisions of how we should approach medieval enjoyment’s political efficacy are urgently needed.

Taking up these intersecting problems, this session will examine the distinctive contours of pleasure and politics in the Holy Roman Empire. Luke A. Fidler