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Ritual and Space in the Middle Ages: Proceedings of the 2009 Harlaxton Symposium (Harlaxton Medieval Studies) Hardcover – 19 Jul 2011


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The eighteen essays in this volume explore modern interpretations of the relationship between 'ritual' and 'space' across the medieval world. Both themes have been the focus of productive debate and controversy among medievalists in recent years. The study of ritual is complicated by the lack of its own inherent meaning, which is interpreted differently by the performer(s), the audience and those recording the events (the last often swayed by political demands). Space, too, is subject to different interpretations and its relationship with ritual is often difficult for the historian or archaeologist to understand. (what happened, where, why?). After an extensive introduction laying out the terms of the discussion, the essays here each offer a specific case study and by rigorous analysis seek to determine aspects of the ritual-space interaction. The topics range from the personal rituals of penance, marriage and death, to public celebration and triumph, jousting, pageants, processions and urban plays, or the gendering of particular ritual spaces. Historical accounts of rituals are analysed alongside reconstructions, showing how raised platforms, ephemeral arches, painted and sculpted images, battlefield memorials (yes, they did have them in the Middle Ages) and screens or other mechanisms, designed to limit or allow access, generated meanings for the contemporary audience. Other essays explore the potential of residual meanings in ritual objects such as bejewelled crucifixes or the concept of a 'ritualised culture', as suggested in the production and use of music manuscripts. There is a full index. The contributors are Frances Andrews, Sible de Blaauw, Andrew Jotischky, Lucy-Anne Hunt, Rob Meens, Donal Cooper, Jill Caskey, Uri Smilansky, Helen Carrel, Hannes Kleineke, David Ditchburn, James Stokes, John McKinnell, Catherine Lawless, Julian M. Luxford, Philip Morgan, Nicholas Rogers and Maurizio Campanelli.

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