Fine Arts | Passion Image, Passion Cult, Passion Drama
A625 | 0000 | Merback


Iconography and Patterns of Response in the Middle Ages, Renaissance
and Reformation

What historical factors have made the story of the Passion of Christ
one of the enduring “root paradigms” of western consciousness and
culture?  Today the Crucifixion is arguably the most widely
recognizable theme in art, yet it was not always so.  European
interest in the historical life and death of Jesus roused itself
following the destruction of the Holy Sepulchre in 1009; but only
with the recapture of Jerusalem ninety years later did Christians
turn lastingly to a pursuit of sanctity fixated on the human
sufferings of Christ and Mary.  This seminar takes a long-range look
at this great religious reorientation, and explores the many
transformations in Christian iconography that accompanied it and
urged it forward.  Touching down in the later Middle Ages,
Renaissance and Reformation periods, we will consider the
astonishing variety of new images -- narrative, theatrical,
devotional and cultic -- and situate each genre in its cultural and
social contexts. Borrowing from anthropology, psychoanalysis and
semiotics, we will inquire into the dynamics of viewer-response,
especially the role of memory.  Along the way we will encounter
artists both famous and obscure, conservative and innovative, pious
and iconoclastic.  And we will expand our notion of Passion imagery
beyond the artefacts of art history to include Passion relics,
bleeding Hosts, devotional literature, eucharistic visions, mystical
woundings, liturgical dramas and popular theatre, penitential
spectacles, and anti-Semitic myths.