Reliquaries, tapestry, and still life painting : the mutability of bodies and bodily ideologies from Medieval to early-modern Europe
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] This thesis considers how human, animal, spatial, and material bodies function within diverse systems of knowledge. In the context of this project I have framed a body to be something that is mutable. The main body of this project consists of three case studies set within the time periods traditionally labeled as the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Dutch Golden Age. Each study is framed around an object from which I consider a specific theory of the body or bodies, including fragmentation, possession, and narrative. Through the Reliquary Casket with Scenes from the Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket, Chapter 1 considers what fragmentation means within the context of the hagiography of Saint Thomas Becket. By extension, the traditions of relics, reliquaries, and pilgrimage are explored and understood through the lens of the individual parts that contribute to a greater spiritual whole. Chapter 2 uses The Lady and the Unicorn tapestry series to highlight the types of possession that animal, human, and material bodies may have. The third chapter considers the diverse bodies featured within Pieter Claesz's Vanitas Still Life with a Nautilus Cup and Musk Apple on Golden Chain. The bodies in this painting present a narrative of the Dutch Republic's vulnerability and bring bodily presence back into considerations of the still life genre. Through these three chapters, I hope to offer a unique lens that challenges how we understand the individuals of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Dutch Golden Age.
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