Book Series Disputatio, vol. 32

Medieval Art at the Intersection of Visuality and Material Culture

Studies in the ‘Semantics of Vision’

Raphaèle Preisinger (ed)

  • Pages: 247 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:25 b/w, 7 col., 1 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2021

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-58153-8
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-58154-5
  • E-book
  • Available

By according equal importance to theoretical accounts of vision and cultural practices of seeing, the articles in this book contribute to the ongoing shift in the fields of art history and medieval history from considerations of vision to those of visuality.


“Overall, the contributions provide important insights into medieval visualities, especially western, Christian ones.” (Patricia Blessing, in The Medieval Review, 22.06.01)

“This is a fascinating and enjoyable book, full of stimulating insights. I would recommend it to anyone seeking to understand the nature of late medieval religiosity.” (Lola Sharon Davidson, in Parergon, 39/2, 2022, p. 168)


Over the last two decades the historiography of medieval art has been defined by two seemingly contradictory trends: a focus on questions of visuality, and more recently an emphasis on materiality. The latter, which has encouraged multi-sensorial approaches to medieval art, has come to be perceived as a counterpoint to the study of visuality as defined in ocularcentric terms.

Bringing together specialists from different areas of art history, this book grapples with this dialectic and poses new avenues for reconciling these two opposing tendencies. The essays in this volume demonstrate the necessity of returning to questions of visuality, taking into account the insights gained from the ‘material turn’. They highlight conceptions of vision that attribute a haptic quality to the act of seeing and draw on bodily perception to shed new light on visuality in the Middle Ages.


Acknowledgements, List of Illustrations
Colour Plates

Introduction: A Return to Medieval Visuality after the Material Turn — RAPHAÈLE PREISINGER

‘Visual Piety’ and Visual Theory: Was There a Paradigm Shift? — BERTHOLD HUB

Fortress of Form, Robber of Consciousness: Theorizing Visuality in Islam — WENDY M. K. SHAW

De spiritu et anima: The Cistercians, the Image, and Imagination — JENS RÜFFER

The Liveliness of the Methexic Image — BISSERA V. PENTCHEVA

Radiance and Image on the Breast: Seeing Medieval Jewellery — SILKE TAMMEN

Reliquaries and the Boundaries of Vision: Relics, Crystals, Mirrors and the ‘Vision Effect’ — CYNTHIA HAHN

Channelling the Gaze: Squints in Late Medieval Screens — TINA BAWDEN