Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Middle Ages Presentation-Summary (Group 1)

Chapter 1: The Middle Ages
Group Members: Pritika Das, Wajiha Dawood, Tiffannie Diaz

Introduction/Religion as the Prevailing Force in the Middle Ages
The Middle Ages followed the fall of the Roman Empire and preceded the enlightenment of the Renaissance. It is important to understand the extent of power held by the church. The church controlled all aspects of life including religion, culture, and knowledge. It not only controlled what people could learn but who was allowed to learn. It was a time when people lived and worked in order to get into heaven. Church had a monopoly over salvation and so dictated the lives of the people. Since their lives revolved around the church so did the art that was produced. Today when thinking about art in the middle ages architecture dominates over illuminated texts and tapestries. Architecture which is considered an art made by man, over tapestries which is made by women.

Upper Class Women: The Nuns
There are two places during this time where women were allowed to produce art, the monasteries and the guilds. The nuns in the monastery represented the female intellect during this time and the majority of them came from noble families. In a time where most people did not know how to read this is a feat for women. But they lived with limitations on what they could do. Although they were allowed to learn they weren't allowed to give sermons or enter into priesthood. The work of women during this time was not attributed to their intellect instead they are made into mystics. Hildegard was listened to because she was writing a divine message. She is a vessel for a message but not the creator. The women in the guilds worked side by side men doing the same work yet there is a modern need to distinguish what is done by women and what was done by men. It is difficult to distinguish because so few artists put their names on their work during this time. 

One of the teachings by St. Paul
- "A woman must be a learner, listening quietly and with due submission. I do not permit a woman to be a teacher, nor must a women domineer over a man; she should be quiet." (Chadwick 45) 

Women's Artwork in the Middle Ages 
  • Bayeux Tapestry
-   Completed around1086 
-   Medieval embroidery: competed by the nunnery (there were no records of male embroiders)
-  "Actors" in these embroidered scenes were referred to as Military heroes
-   Consistent themes across the Tapestry: Loyalty, Bravery, Treachery, Power
-   Famous scene of Aelfgyva and the Cleric: Shows how women are excluded from power, by males

  • Hortes Deliciarum
- Completed by Herrad of Landsberg (after 1170)
- Documentation of the Nuns in her abbey
- Showcased the upper class (names of each nun was written in German and Latin)
- Philosophical influences by the old testament, gospels, acts & scenes from judgment day
- Subjects come from Byzantine and Western Art

Women's Depiction in Artwork 
-Lower class women were shown working
-Lack of power in the feudalistic system
-Nuns: Elite social class that was given some amount of power because they belonged to the clergy, but they were still inferior to men
-Women were portrayed  only in religious settings: conservative apparel was worn
-Societal structure and culture was reflected in the artwork 

Hildegard of Bingen
- 1098, Female German Composer, Writer and Philosopher
- Incomparable work
- Highlighted female qualities: strength and endurance 
- Parents enrolled their daughters in convents for artistic reasons and to escape "financial responsibility" (keeping the wealth in their family by not having to pay dowry)

Works of Hildegard
- 63 Hymns, 1 Miracle Play
- Her work embraced science and religion
- Kept her position in society, did not challenge the church and their opression of women


Hildegard's Influences 
- First medieval manuscript 
- Free thinking with feminine ideas
- Wrote about freeing the church from corruption
- Feminine religious movement 

Works Cited:
Chadwick, Whitney. Women, Art, and Society. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson, 2002. Print.

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