Current Projects . . .

Medieval Studies

....Early medieval inscriptions - the interactions betweens words, images, and spaces
..........the mosaics of Santa Prassede, Rome -- I'm turning a conference paper into an article.  

        The mosaics at Sta. Prassede are an interesting case of urban redevelopment in the city of Rome around 820.  They fit into my general interests because they are early 9th century and are accompanied by a long and interesting inscription. I think the placemen of the saint's name - PRAXEDIS - is carefully located.
On purely formalist grounds I'm fascinated by the use of color fields in the mosaics - which is especially clear in the Chapel of Saint Zeno.

....Not Quite Pilgrimage Badges
Because I occasionally teach a seminar on pilgrimage and art I got interested in pilgrimage badges and the other kinds of badges medieval people wore. I think the ones I'm working on now are best understood as carnival badges, though some people call them erotic badges and some people study their apotropaic functions. I gave a paper on some of the visual sources for the badges at Kalamazoo 2007 and am in the process of recasting it as an article.

I've started a handlist of words medieval people used for talking about badges and need to expand that to the verbs they used for wearing them.

....Revival Styles
If you are an American medievalist you end up thinking about revival styles on occasion. In my case I was asked by the local Historical Society to give a tour of our Colleges' chapel. I looked about in the archives and stumbled into another project! St. John's Chapel was designed by Richard Upjohn, a noted architect of the Gothic Revival. Becuase our archive also has the journal of the man who was then president of Hobart, I can say some very definite things about the intentions behind the building. That's turned into an article, too - and the journal has already turned into

The Abner Jackson Blog, 1858-1867
(in collaboration with Hobart & William Smith Archivist Linda Benedict)

I administer a Flickr group for Gothic Revival - come join and add pictures!


..........a paper on pedagogical issues that arise when people use images to teach about the past.  One thing that art historians do reflexively is interrogate pictures and how they may or may not represent reality or an ideal world, the contemporary world of the artist or art-models.  I have interesting examples from illustrated medieval Bibles, illustrated medieval Bible commentaries (already one interpretive step along the way), medieval chronicles, and Islamic manuscripts.  These pictures are used all too frequently by historians and professors of religion to illustrate rather than to illuminate.

..........a proposal for a textbook on teaching medieval humor. I team teach regularly with my colleague Laurence Erussard of the English Department. We found out the hard way that there is no textbook for art and literature and would like to pull together an interdsciplinary introduction to the topic from early riddles to fabliaux, from marginalia to misericords.

..........and while teaching European Studies 101 I have developed a unit for teaching high Gothic through art and literature. Students read the Rutebeuf's 13th century Play of Theophilus and study the contemporary north portal sculpture at Notre Dame de Paris, which illustrates the same legend. The interplay between different creative decisions makes for a very productive week of work. I gave a paper describing this unit in the Fall of 2006 at Binghamton University's CEMERS conference and submitted a revised version to the conference proceedings.

last updated 7/11/2007

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