Fragmented devotions: picturing the wounds of Christ in late medieval England, c.1400-1533

Pollick, Johanna (2021) Fragmented devotions: picturing the wounds of Christ in late medieval England, c.1400-1533. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis is concerned with the wounds of Christ in devotional images and texts from fifteenth- and sixteenth-century England. It newly examines a group of six iconographically-related manuscripts and early printed works produced in England on the theme of Christ’s wounds as ‘wells’ of virtue. Though Passion devotion and the late medieval interest in Christ’s wounds has received considerable scholarly attention in recent years, this is the first extended study of the English ‘wound-as-well’ iconography. This thesis first traces the origins of the wound-as-well image from the Church Fathers to late medieval vernacular spirituality, demonstrating how this motif was adapted and reimagined for a fifteenth-century English lay audience. Close descriptions of the six manuscripts and printed texts selected for analysis follow, elucidating the particularities of the wound-as-well images and their manuscript or printed context, and laying the groundwork for the final two chapters. Through text-image analysis, the processes of reading and viewing demanded by these works are explored. My examination of the layered relationships between image and text in the wound-as-well works reveals the interpretative effort required of their readers in order to activate them fully, and I offer new insights on the role that text scrolls could play on the manuscript or printed page as mediators between image and text. The final part of the thesis examines how the abstracted nature of the wounds-as-wells allows them to mediate between the bodily and spiritual senses, and thus between humans and God. These images engage the senses of the reader-viewer, particularly touch, taste, and imaginative vision, yet in their abstraction assert that they lie outside ordinary perception, and thus evade human understanding. This study of the wounds of Christ as wells advances scholarly understanding of the cult of the wounds in late medieval England, and offers new insights on the diversity of lay devotion during this period, and the role that non-narrative imagery could play in facilitating imaginative and bodily encounters with divinity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Medieval, England, Middle Ages, illuminated manuscripts, printing, iconography, wounds of Christ, body of Christ, Passion of Christ, blood, wounds, senses, devotional literature, Middle English.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NE Print media
N Fine Arts > NK Decorative arts Applied arts Decoration and ornament
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z004 Books. Writing. Paleography
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > History of Art
Funder's Name: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Supervisor's Name: Strickland, Professor Debra and Robertson, Professor Elizabeth
Date of Award: 2021
Embargo Date: 18 May 2024
Depositing User: Ms Johanna Pollick
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82191
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 18 May 2021 10:10
Last Modified: 18 May 2021 10:21
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82191

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