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Visuality and Materiality in the Story of Tristan and Isolde

Visuality and Materiality in the Story of Tristan and Isolde

Edited by Jutta Eming, Ann Marie Rasmussen, and Kathryn Starkey

More than any other secular story of the Middle Ages, the tale of Tristan and Isolde fascinated its audience. Adaptations in poetry, prose, and drama were widespread in western European vernacular languages. Visual portrayals of the story appear not only in manuscripts and printed books but in individual pictures and pictorial narratives, and on an amazing array of objects including stained glass, wall paintings, tiles, tapestries, ivory boxes, combs, mirrors, shoes, and misericords.

The pan-European and cross-media nature of the surviving medieval evidence is not adequately reflected in current Tristan scholarship, which largely follows disciplinary and linguistic lines. The contributors to Visuality and Materiality in the Story of Tristan and Isolde seek to address this problem by opening a cross-disciplinary dialogue and by proposing a new set of intellectual coordinates—the concepts of materiality and visuality—without losing sight of the historical specificity or the aesthetic character of individual works of art and literature. Their theoretical paradigm allows them to survey the richness of the surviving evidence from a variety of disciplinary approaches, while offering new perspectives on the nature of representation in medieval culture. Enriched by numerous illustrations, this volume is an important examination of the story of Tristan and Isolde in the European context of its visual and textual transmission.

Contributors: Martin Baisch, Elke Brüggen, Michael Curschmann, Jutta Eming, Elke Koch, Klaus Krüger, Ludger Lieb, Amanda Luyster, Jan-Dirk Müller, Ann Marie Rasmussen, James A. Schultz, Kathryn Starkey, Alison Stones, Stephanie Cain Van D’elden, Hans-Joachim Ziegeler, Haiko Wandhoff

“Comprehensive and cutting edge, Visuality and Materiality in the Story of Tristan and Isolde defines the moment in the history of Tristan scholarship. The essays, gathered from both sides of the Atlantic, enrich and expand the key concepts of materiality and visuality to account for the proliferation of the Tristan story in an astonishing range of media. The collection gives scholars in several disciplines the tools to explore the productive connections between the verbal and the visual in medieval culture.” — Sarah Westphal-Wihl, Washington University in St. Louis

“This is a major collection of essays that gives new direction to the study of one of the most important poets of the Middle Ages and one of the most fascinating works of literature from the period.” — C. Stephen Jaeger, University of Illinois

“Visuality and Materiality in the Story of Tristan and Isolde successfully opens up the conversation between literary historians and art historians on its intended subject, and as such is an original contribution to the field. The editors are well-versed in past and current medieval, and specifically Tristan, scholarship and their substantial introduction lays out the methodology behind the investigation as well as the structure of the book." — Denise Della Rossa, University of Notre Dame

ISBN: 978-0-268-04139-7
376 pages
Publication Year: 2012

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Jutta Eming is professor at the Freie Universität Berlin, Fachbereich Philosophie und Geisteswissenschaften, Institut für Deutsche und Niederländische Philologie.

Ann Marie Rasmussen is professor in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literature at Duke University.

Kathryn Starkey is associate professor in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“[This volume] represents a further step in the integration of material and visual culture as a useful interdisciplinary hermeneutic.” — Comitatus

“This collection of twelve essays is both traditional and innovative in the ground it covers and the approaches taken by its editors and authors. . . . [It] is in many ways representative of the kind of contemporary medieval literary studies that are taking us beyond the merely textual into the broader spheres of cultural context. For that reason, among others, it is a welcome addition to scholarship.” — Journal of English and Germanic Philology

“This fine and gorgeously illustrated collection of twelve essays grew out of a conference held at Duke University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2007. . . . The volume is resolutely and unapologetically German-centric and focused squarely on Gottfried von Strassburg: eleven of the thirteen contributors are from departments of German, and six of the essays are on Gottfried, with one other on Hans Sach” — Arthuriana

“The story of Tristan and Isolde held a special fascination for people all over Western Europe from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries, and this fascination is documented in numerous works of literature as well as pictures and pictorial narratives. Yet although this extensive corpus has been studied by literary scholars on the one hand and by art historians on the other, there has not been much dialogue between the two disciplines. . . . Hence the rationale for this volume, which brings together twelve contributions by experts from art history and literary studies with the aim of stimulating an interdisciplinary dialogue that, it is hoped, will lead to a keener awareness of the relations between the verbal and the visual in medieval culture.” — Speculum

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Visuality and Materiality in the Story of Tristan and Isolde


Edited by Jutta Eming, Ann Marie Rasmussen, and Kathryn Starkey

 Visuality and Materiality in the Story of Tristan and Isolde
Paper Edition

More than any other secular story of the Middle Ages, the tale of Tristan and Isolde fascinated its audience. Adaptations in poetry, prose, and drama were widespread in western European vernacular languages. Visual portrayals of the story appear not only in manuscripts and printed books but in individual pictures and pictorial narratives, and on an amazing array of objects including stained glass, wall paintings, tiles, tapestries, ivory boxes, combs, mirrors, shoes, and misericords.

The pan-European and cross-media nature of the surviving medieval evidence is not adequately reflected in current Tristan scholarship, which largely follows disciplinary and linguistic lines. The contributors to Visuality and Materiality in the Story of Tristan and Isolde seek to address this problem by opening a cross-disciplinary dialogue and by proposing a new set of intellectual coordinates—the concepts of materiality and visuality—without losing sight of the historical specificity or the aesthetic character of individual works of art and literature. Their theoretical paradigm allows them to survey the richness of the surviving evidence from a variety of disciplinary approaches, while offering new perspectives on the nature of representation in medieval culture. Enriched by numerous illustrations, this volume is an important examination of the story of Tristan and Isolde in the European context of its visual and textual transmission.

Contributors: Martin Baisch, Elke Brüggen, Michael Curschmann, Jutta Eming, Elke Koch, Klaus Krüger, Ludger Lieb, Amanda Luyster, Jan-Dirk Müller, Ann Marie Rasmussen, James A. Schultz, Kathryn Starkey, Alison Stones, Stephanie Cain Van D’elden, Hans-Joachim Ziegeler, Haiko Wandhoff

“Comprehensive and cutting edge, Visuality and Materiality in the Story of Tristan and Isolde defines the moment in the history of Tristan scholarship. The essays, gathered from both sides of the Atlantic, enrich and expand the key concepts of materiality and visuality to account for the proliferation of the Tristan story in an astonishing range of media. The collection gives scholars in several disciplines the tools to explore the productive connections between the verbal and the visual in medieval culture.” — Sarah Westphal-Wihl, Washington University in St. Louis

“This is a major collection of essays that gives new direction to the study of one of the most important poets of the Middle Ages and one of the most fascinating works of literature from the period.” — C. Stephen Jaeger, University of Illinois

“Visuality and Materiality in the Story of Tristan and Isolde successfully opens up the conversation between literary historians and art historians on its intended subject, and as such is an original contribution to the field. The editors are well-versed in past and current medieval, and specifically Tristan, scholarship and their substantial introduction lays out the methodology behind the investigation as well as the structure of the book." — Denise Della Rossa, University of Notre Dame

ISBN: 978-0-268-04139-7

376 pages

“[This volume] represents a further step in the integration of material and visual culture as a useful interdisciplinary hermeneutic.” — Comitatus

“This collection of twelve essays is both traditional and innovative in the ground it covers and the approaches taken by its editors and authors. . . . [It] is in many ways representative of the kind of contemporary medieval literary studies that are taking us beyond the merely textual into the broader spheres of cultural context. For that reason, among others, it is a welcome addition to scholarship.” — Journal of English and Germanic Philology

“This fine and gorgeously illustrated collection of twelve essays grew out of a conference held at Duke University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2007. . . . The volume is resolutely and unapologetically German-centric and focused squarely on Gottfried von Strassburg: eleven of the thirteen contributors are from departments of German, and six of the essays are on Gottfried, with one other on Hans Sach” — Arthuriana

“The story of Tristan and Isolde held a special fascination for people all over Western Europe from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries, and this fascination is documented in numerous works of literature as well as pictures and pictorial narratives. Yet although this extensive corpus has been studied by literary scholars on the one hand and by art historians on the other, there has not been much dialogue between the two disciplines. . . . Hence the rationale for this volume, which brings together twelve contributions by experts from art history and literary studies with the aim of stimulating an interdisciplinary dialogue that, it is hoped, will lead to a keener awareness of the relations between the verbal and the visual in medieval culture.” — Speculum