Saturday, December 29, 2007

Brainstorming -- input wanted!

I had a great first meeting with my new prof-to-be, and I'm beginning to brainstorm what shape the further explorations of the Book of Hours will take.

Here are four different nuggets for a possible paper, each of which might lead my creative work and process down a very different path than the one I started on.

Do you have any preferences? Leave a comment and let me know...


Nugget #1. Monkey-business and the Jews: A reflection on the marginalia in the Book of Hours and other medieval illuminated manuscripts.

In Michael Camille's Gothic Art: Glorious Visions and Image on the Edge, we find discussions of the hybrid monsters, scatalogical goings-on, and other babuini (follies) that play in the margins of medieval illuminated manuscripts. Given the prevalent anti-semitic tenor of medieval Christian society and the status of Jews as outsider, one might think there would be more mockery made of Jews in the margins of these manuscripts. However, there seems to be proportionately far less "Jew as Other" than there are creatures from the edge of the world, naked maids, and hairy apes in clerical garb.

In this paper, I will explore whether there have been surveys of the various kinds of Other, to determine whether the seeming lack of "Jew as Other" is an accurate observation. If I can determine the observation is correct, I will share hypotheses as to why this might be. I will also reflect on Eamon Duffy's study of Book of Hours marginalia and on Camille's notions of what The Other meant to those who created, saw and used these medieval manuscripts.


Nugget #2. Inside-Out: A look at time in the medieval book of hours and in Sol LeWitt’s work.

For a medieval Christian, time, according to Michael Camille, "...had a beginning and an ending, a purpose and a plan, which were organized by God from outside time." (Gothic Art: Glorious Visions, 71.) He posits that, for these people, " and time were inextricably linked." (Camille 71) In this paper, I will explore connections between the process-focused implicit mysticism of conceptual art by Sol LeWitt and the process-focused exoteric religious imagery of the medieval Book of Hours.


I also like these, but suspect they're not going to offer up as much room for surprises:

Nugget #3. Beating the Bounds: The liminal margin and the relationship between sacred and secular in the English Book of Hours.

Nugget #4. Edgy humor: Reflections on the marginalia in medieval books of hours and the marginal cartoons drawn for Mad Magazine by Sergio Aragones.


I did get a grade higher than normal body temperature (in Fahrenheit, that is) as my final grade for the first MLA course (yippee!!!) -- but haven't gotten the final paper or artwork back yet, and I want to make hi-res images then send the art on a "Tour de Interviewees."

If I could only tie up the loose ends before starting to tangle myself in new projects and processes...



d. chedwick bryant said...

#1 sounds the most interesting to me.

laureline said...

I'd be more interested in nugget 3, which is evidence of a more conservative intellect than I thought I had! I want some sort of intrinsic connection between things under discussion, as opposed to yoking together two things that have no link in time, space, or possible area of intellectual influence, as would be the case with Sol Lewitt and Sergio Aragones. Maybe, though, Aragones was aware of medieval marginalia? And if not, I guess, I'd find nugget 4 more interesting than the Sol Lewitt one, because there is, come to think of it, a kind of genre connection.
I know I'm thinking more literally than you are about the parameters of your project, so feel free to ignore my input! Can't wait to see what you do!

Lee's River/Zlatovyek said...

lori the nugget I started chewing on the most was #1. Maybe because I have a lot of photographic material close by (Toulouse, Cahors, etc...) with those hairy apes and demonic figures doing demonic things. Some are truly fascinating and you're right that the "jew as other" theme is not as apparent as one would think. As a matter of fact, a lot of the material is highly coded "passive-aggressive" stuff making fun of local figures and the father/mother superior of the cloister.
I could go on. Will if you want me to.

Hurray for the Fahrenheit reading
as for loose ends - dare I tell you this? it is my experience that, barely has one finished tying the ones on the left, a whole new bunch appear on the right, so...what can I tell you except: good luck ;-)

am said...

Still thinking about the nuggets. You might be able to incorporate something of 1, 2 and 4 in nugget 3. For that reason, I'm tending toward 3.

blog queen said...

I like number three as well. I like the idea of studying the relationship between the sacred and secular in all art actually.


Smiler said...

I think #1 gives you a lot to work with and probably a safe bet. I'm also a fan of #4, but only because I like a certain amount of irreverence and the idea of combining Mad Magazine and Medieval work strikes me as a bit loopy — in the best way possible. Doesn't hurt that I have fond memories of that magazine from my childhood.

My opinion, for what it's worth.

TIV: the individual voice said...

Well, to me there's no question whatsoever that I would pick #2. I mean it IS the book of HOURS and so the concept of TIME is significant, and, what can I say, I'm endlessly interested in issues of Time and Space and their interchangability, not just in "maps of time" like calendars, but in the practice of an Orthopraxic religion like Orthodox Judaism where my entire life used to be structured from the outside in, and then worming my way out of that via...a wormhole I guess. Ha!

TIV: the individual voice said...

Darn. My first response disappeared. I hate that about Blogger. Time. It's all about time. The Hours. The structure of religion. Time and Space. I find them endlessly fascinating. I wouldn't hesitate a...second.

Lori Witzel said...


No worries, TIV -- got 'em all, and posted just your first two comments. I've done that myself many times.

Lee's River/Zlatovyek said...

are we allowed to change our minds here? I didn't know the first thing about Sol LeWitt (except as a name) until I read tiv's riff just above. Oh yeah. That sounds real good. I'll leave the chocolate ├ęclairs and go for the inside-out implicit-exoteric number. Hm-hm.

David Rochester said...

I'm glad I didn't show up here sooner, as I would have felt kinda dumb as the only person to whom #4 was the most appealing ... but then, I am always interested in the way culture doesn't change, while changing past all recognition.