Collecting the Desert in the Carolingian West

Collecting the Desert in the Carolingian West COLLECTING THE DESERT IN THE CAROLINGIAN WEST L ynda L. C oon Abstract The Egyptian desert summoned for its early medieval progeny memories of a past age of superhuman askêsis that posed a challenge to Carolingian attempts at Benedictine hegemony. In response, the architects of ninth-century monas- tic reform labored to present their votaries with a carefully controlled mem- ory of the Egyptian past, and they did so through a propagandistic aesthetic of literary, visual, and ritual “bricolage.” Ja ≤ Elsner de fi nes this aesthetic of bricolage as an artistic form based on symbolic ownership of the past through the display of ancient spolia on contemporary monuments (e.g., the sculptured reliefs collected from past, imperial regimes and exhibited as spolia on the Arch of Constantine) or the layering of present-day texts with past literary forms (e.g., Christian typological exegesis of Hebrew Scripture). Similarly, for the Carolingians, who also ventured into the artistic realm of bricolage, col- lecting, embodying, and displaying were methods of exerting control over the past. Introduction Carolingian ascetic intellectuals were connoisseurs and collectors of the textual and material vestiges of the Golden Age of desert asceti- cism. For example, the Carolingian monastic reformer, Benedict http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Church History and Religious Culture (formerly Nederlands Archief voor Kerkgeschiedenis) Brill

Collecting the Desert in the Carolingian West

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 2006 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1871-241X
eISSN
1871-2428
D.O.I.
10.1163/187124106778787042
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

COLLECTING THE DESERT IN THE CAROLINGIAN WEST L ynda L. C oon Abstract The Egyptian desert summoned for its early medieval progeny memories of a past age of superhuman askêsis that posed a challenge to Carolingian attempts at Benedictine hegemony. In response, the architects of ninth-century monas- tic reform labored to present their votaries with a carefully controlled mem- ory of the Egyptian past, and they did so through a propagandistic aesthetic of literary, visual, and ritual “bricolage.” Ja ≤ Elsner de fi nes this aesthetic of bricolage as an artistic form based on symbolic ownership of the past through the display of ancient spolia on contemporary monuments (e.g., the sculptured reliefs collected from past, imperial regimes and exhibited as spolia on the Arch of Constantine) or the layering of present-day texts with past literary forms (e.g., Christian typological exegesis of Hebrew Scripture). Similarly, for the Carolingians, who also ventured into the artistic realm of bricolage, col- lecting, embodying, and displaying were methods of exerting control over the past. Introduction Carolingian ascetic intellectuals were connoisseurs and collectors of the textual and material vestiges of the Golden Age of desert asceti- cism. For example, the Carolingian monastic reformer, Benedict

Journal

Church History and Religious Culture (formerly Nederlands Archief voor Kerkgeschiedenis)Brill

Published: Jan 1, 2006

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