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'Bere in thy mynde': Phantasms, Parchment and Late Medieval Visual Culture

Rozenberg, Lauren; (2020) 'Bere in thy mynde': Phantasms, Parchment and Late Medieval Visual Culture. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis considers the visual and material culture of medieval phantasms (phantasmata), sensory perceptions impressed on the mind in the form of mental images. Although medieval scholars asserted that ‘thinking’ necessitates phantasms, a form of images, in modern scholarship they have been widely eschewed by art historians and historians of medieval visual culture. The thesis provides a detailed analysis of the vernacular perception of phantasms as well as how this informed viewers’ attitudes towards objects, specifically illuminated manuscripts. Traditionally, scholars have approached phantasms from a philosophical and scholastic point of view. The thesis argues that scholars need to go beyond these post-Aristotelian considerations of phantasms and take visual and material culture into account. Phantasms frame the thesis: their defining characteristics offer interpretative perspectives grounded in the bodily incorporation of images into phantasms. Focusing on notions of (in)visibility, the project considers the representational strategies used to convey mental images. In focusing on the similarities between parchment and skin in fifteenth-century English prayer rolls and the fourteenth-century French treatise Livre de vie, the dissertation further explores questions of likeness and potentiality. Finally, phantasms are impressed on the mind. Examining devotional rolls containing the O Vernicle prayer, the thesis draws on medical and devotional conceptions of skin and flesh to conceptualise the ‘imprint’ function of corporeal yet invisible phantasms and to apprehend them as membrane-like images. Considering devotional, lay, anatomical, theological and philosophical illuminated manuscripts, this thesis argues that visible images and mental phantasms form a single entity, existing through the different levels of the visuality spectrum. As well as opening up a series of theoretical considerations on phantasms, it produces an object-based methodology to critically apprehend phantasms as a worthy object of study for historians of visual culture.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: 'Bere in thy mynde': Phantasms, Parchment and Late Medieval Visual Culture
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
Keywords: medieval, History of Art, Art History, Phantasms, Manuscript Studies
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History of Art
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10110295
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