The Mind's Eye: Visualizing Encyclopedic Knowledge in the Later Middle Ages

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dc.contributor.author Kemp, Jamie
dc.date.accessioned 2014-12-17T17:46:38Z
dc.date.available 2015-12-06T12:22:04Z
dc.date.copyright 2014 en_US
dc.date.issued 2014-12-17
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1828/5773
dc.description.abstract This dissertation critiques and updates the theoretical frameworks for understanding encyclopedic and diagrammatic images as presented in the scholarship of Lucy Freeman Sandler, Barbara Maria Stafford, John Bender, and Michael Marrinan. It offers a new model for examining the cognitive role of images by studying an important medieval encyclopedia, On the Properties of Things, originally written in Latin by Bartholomaeus Anglicus in the thirteenth century. Bartholomaeus’ text was the most popular encyclopedia of the later middle ages and four vernacular translations were produced and circulated between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. Significantly, the French translation of the compendium, coming out of the vernacularization movement of King Charles V but radiating out to other production centres, involved the design of an elaborate and novel illustrative program. The present project examines two exceptional fifteenth-century French copies of this encyclopedia (BnF fr. 9141 and BnF fr. 135/6), and interprets them in light of the shifting intellectual culture and evolving reading practices of late-medieval lay audiences. The information-rich and highly aestheticized miniatures found in such encyclopedic manuscripts have traditionally been defined, by Sandler and others, as having an explanatory function and the capacity to elevate the content of the text through displays of material luxury. My model expands the significance of such images by highlighting their capacity to promote thought. I argue that images in didactic compendia can (i) encourage the reader to actively engage with the text through representations of aristocratic readers performing their understanding of the book socially, and (ii) facilitate visual thinking by aesthetically reflecting the structure of the encyclopedic text through the diagrammatic strategies of the collection, compression, and division of fragmented information. Though the images in my two manuscript case studies take distinct approaches to reader engagement and the mediation of knowledge, in both cases the power of these visualizations rests in the cognitive acts and range of mental associations they provoke. This dissertation demonstrates that epistemically-dense images, in addition to merely reflecting a text, could shape knowledge as it was being formed in the minds of active viewers, readers, writers, and artists, in an intellectually rich period in late-medieval France. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.subject Compendia en_US
dc.subject Bartholomaeus Anglicus en_US
dc.subject On the Properties of Things en_US
dc.subject De Proprietatibus Rerum en_US
dc.subject Manuscript Illumination en_US
dc.subject Diagram en_US
dc.subject Livre des propriétés des choses en_US
dc.subject Art and cognition en_US
dc.subject Medieval encyclopedias en_US
dc.title The Mind's Eye: Visualizing Encyclopedic Knowledge in the Later Middle Ages en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.contributor.supervisor Campbell, Erin J.
dc.degree.department Department of Art History and Visual Studies en_US
dc.degree.level Doctor of Philosophy Ph.D. en_US
dc.rights.temp Available to the World Wide Web en_US
dc.description.scholarlevel Graduate en_US

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