Art, Enclosure and the Cura Monialium: Prolegomena in the Guise of a Postscript
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CitationHamburger, Jeffrey F. 1992. Art, enclosure and the cura monialium: Prolegomena in the guise of a postscript. Gesta 31(2): 108-134.
AbstractA history of the art and architecture of female monasticism requires a social history of female spirituality in the Middle Ages. Neither, however, has been written, perhaps because each is integral to the other. The cura monialium provides a common denominator linking both subjects to their larger context within medieval monasticism. After an overview of enclosure emphasizing its limits as well as its strictures, the article turns to problems in female monastic architecture. Architecture enforced enclosure and articulated its experience, yet the two topics have remained virtually distinct. A third section examines the role of women as patrons. In conclusion, the article considers whether convents produced or possessed a visual culture as distinctive as corresponding currents within female spirituality. Despite the restrictions imposed by enclosure, nuns used images to develop and sustain a spirituality that was distinct from prevailing norms and that ultimately helped to transform them. The study of female piety and patronage can therefore be seen as an integral part of a general history of medieval art and spirituality.
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