God and the Goddesses: Vision, Poetry, and Belief in the Middle Ages

God and the Goddesses: Vision, Poetry, and Belief in the Middle Ages and he too often reduces art to ideology. Hence the spaces within which individuals might have found their personal desires piqued or expressed by images are actually quite limited. For example, in chapter 4 (the weakest in the book), he reads the wholeness of Barbara’s body as a symbol for the hegemonic church, suppressing dissent. For women, then, the alternative reaction to being co-opted by religious didacticism is being “aroused” by seeing female flesh tortured. This seems to me unnuanced in the first instance, improbable in the second. Medieval religious art and literature was, in my opinion, far more complex, multivalent, labile, and glorious than Mills evokes for us. In it, pain was internal to the self as well as inflicted from without; desire was simultaneously bodily (sensual and sexual) and religious (directed toward an Other that gives meaning). The power of such art and devotion lies not so much in “suspension” as in paradox — the simultaneous assertion of opposites. For all his claims to make the culture he studies contingent, heterogeneous, and infused with potency, Mills sometimes seems to impoverish it by straining for responses that, at most, “may not be impossible.” — Caroline Walker Bynum http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Common Knowledge Duke University Press

God and the Goddesses: Vision, Poetry, and Belief in the Middle Ages

Common Knowledge, Volume 12 (3) – Oct 1, 2006

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
© 2006 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0961-754X
eISSN
0961-754X
D.O.I.
10.1215/0961754x-2006-012
Publisher site
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Abstract

and he too often reduces art to ideology. Hence the spaces within which individuals might have found their personal desires piqued or expressed by images are actually quite limited. For example, in chapter 4 (the weakest in the book), he reads the wholeness of Barbara’s body as a symbol for the hegemonic church, suppressing dissent. For women, then, the alternative reaction to being co-opted by religious didacticism is being “aroused” by seeing female flesh tortured. This seems to me unnuanced in the first instance, improbable in the second. Medieval religious art and literature was, in my opinion, far more complex, multivalent, labile, and glorious than Mills evokes for us. In it, pain was internal to the self as well as inflicted from without; desire was simultaneously bodily (sensual and sexual) and religious (directed toward an Other that gives meaning). The power of such art and devotion lies not so much in “suspension” as in paradox — the simultaneous assertion of opposites. For all his claims to make the culture he studies contingent, heterogeneous, and infused with potency, Mills sometimes seems to impoverish it by straining for responses that, at most, “may not be impossible.” — Caroline Walker Bynum

Journal

Common KnowledgeDuke University Press

Published: Oct 1, 2006

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