Gerhard Jaritz

title.none: Hanawalt and Kobialka, eds., Medieval Practices of Space (Jaritz)

identifier.other: baj9928.0104.003 01.04.03

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Gerhard Jaritz, Central European University,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2001

identifier.citation: Hanawalt, Barbara and Michal Kobialka. Medieval Practicies of Space. Medieval Cultures, Vol 23. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000. Pp. vii, 269. $62.95. ISBN: 0-816-63545-5.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 01.04.03

Hanawalt, Barbara and Michal Kobialka. Medieval Practicies of Space. Medieval Cultures, Vol 23. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000. Pp. vii, 269. $62.95. ISBN: 0-816-63545-5.

Reviewed by:

Gerhard Jaritz
Central European University

"(Social) space is not a thing among other things, not a product among other products: rather, it subsumes things produced, and encompasses their interrelationships in their coexistence and simultaneity--their (relative) order and/or (relative) disorder. It is the outcome of a sequence and set of operations, and thus cannot be reduced to the rank of a simple object" (Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith [Oxford: Blackwell 1991], p. 73)

Medieval Practices of Space represents the results of a conference held at the Center for Medieval Studies at the University of Minnesota in April 1997. The conference and volume may be seen as a result of the influence that H. Levebvfre's study on the production of space has exerted on the humanities, and on medieval studies in particular. The 'new' uses of space having left their strictly geometrical context are represented by ten studies that show the growing interdisciplinarity in the approach to the topic. The division of space, its symbolic language, the heterogeneity of its practices, their policing, etc. play an important role in the essays that are meant to function as "gestures of thinking that are positioned in a dynamic field of discourse" (Introduction, p. xvii).

Michael Camille investigates "Signs of the City. Place, Power, and Fantasy in Medieval Paris". As a starting point of his analysis, he uses the oldest extant fourteenth-century house sign of the city, a stone relief situated in rue Galande, which depicts the legend of St. Julian the Hospitaller, and had marked a hostel. The author deals with the different types of urban signs and emphasizes their social function associated with status, profession, and gender: "... for urban dwellers in the Middle Ages signs were a part of the texture and negotiation of everyday life". (23)

Daniel Lord Smail analyzes "The Linguistic Cartography of Property and Power in Late Medieval Marseille". He is able to show differences in the verbal fourteenth-century descriptions of the location of urban houses. While ordinary inhabitants identified them mainly in terms of vicinities, the notaries increasingly translated these local descriptions into cartographic statements that used streets as the basic unit in the site clauses. He offers the explanation "that the street template was part of a civilizing agenda from which Marseille's notaries, as a group benefited". (56)

Charles Burroughs deals with "Spaces of Arbitration and the Organization of Space in Late Medieval Italian Cities". Concentrating on the examples of Florence and Rome, he is able to show that front porticos or loggias served as public space that was part of the house. This kind of interface of the private house and the public street offered ideal possibilities for the announcement and performance of any legal transactions. During the fifteenth century, influenced by aristocratic culture, the facade porticos disappeared and gave place to new and fashionable palace facades. There, the porticos belonged in the 'private' courtyard.

Andrzej Piotrowsky concentrates on sacral Byzantine "Architecture and the Iconoclastic Controversy," and investigates the context of philosophical and theological thought, and of architectural representation. Mainly the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius (early 6th century) on the representation of the divine had an important influence on the development of Byzantine church architecture. The Dionysian ideas about the symbolic meaning of light as divine benevolence and wisdom played a decisive role in the concept of nonfigurative representation and its application in architecture. The author analyzes two examples comparatively: the post-iconoclastic Katholikon in the monastery of Hosios Loukas in Greece (10th/11th century) and the pre-iconoclastic San Vitale in Ravenna (mid-6th century). He emphasizes the relationship between light and the buildings' forms and sees it as the result of a particular design that was fundamental for the symbolic functioning of the sacral space. He is able to show that, at Hosios Loukas much more explicitly than at San Vitale, the spiritual reality of the sacred place was metaphorically characterized by the material form of the building.

The essay of Michal Kobialka discusses "Staging Place/Space in the Eleventh-Century Monastic Practices". Using the tenth- century Regularis concordia and its copy from the second half of the eleventh century, he deals with liturgical drama and its transformations that were connected with monastical questioning that had arisen concerning the staging of the real presence/absence of Christ in the Eucharist. His argument is that the Berengar-Lanfranc Eucharist controversy, Saint Anselm's prayers, Lanfranc's Constitutions and the eleventh- century Regularis concordia "disclose an epistemic break in the concept of representation" (132) in monastic space.

Valerie I. J. Flint investigates "Space and Discipline in Early Medieval Europe" on the basis of monastic rules and customaries. She finds a connection between punishment and space, and is able to show that the idea of distancing as punishment and as a means of corrective discipline played a very important role in early medieval monasteries. For less serious faults, the monk was to be distanced in or from the most important public spaces of the community: mainly the refectory, the oratory and the church, the chapter house. For more serious faults, like fighting, consorting with women, contempt for authority, etc., the monk should be left alone more severely, with no one speaking to him and having only his sin for company. Flint compares these monastic punishments with the ones mentioned in the Libri Penitentiales. There also, and perhaps derived from monastic practice, distancing was used for the punishment of serious crimes: penitential pilgrimages were to direct the culprit's rehabilitation.

Donnalee Dox concentrates on "Theatrical Space, Mutable Space, and the Space of Imagination", and offers "Three Readings of the Croxton Play of the Sacrament". The East Anglian play dates c. 1460 and contains a Host desecration narrative that ends with the conversion of five Jews to Christianity. She focuses on the arrangement of bodies and objects in theatrical space and emphasizes the links with the play's visual imagery and East Anglian cultural practices, which support a reading of the play as didactic and orthodox. But the performance "represented more than stable space. It also represented transformations of space, in keeping with the theme of transformation and conversion, that is at the core of the narrative and of Christian belief." (182) Moreover, the author emphasizes the possibility that the dramatic performance "gives the theoretical space of imagination a place, in the Aristotelian sense, in the Christian believer's mind". (189)

Jody Enders deals with a very similar source in her "Dramatic Memories and Tortured Spaces in the Mistere de la Sainte Hostie". The Mistere de la Sainte Hostie is a fifteenth-century play that also centered on the desecration and torturing of a Host by a Jew. It particularly contains a juxtaposition between domestic and public space. The desecration of the Host takes place in the Jew's house, while his violent expulsion and execution, the taking over of his house, and its transformation into a monastery, a space of devotion, show the public reaction of the Christian community.

The essay of Kathleen Biddick, "Becoming Collection. The Spatial Afterlife of Medieval Universal Histories", analyzes the Nuremberg Chronicle, i. e. Hartmann Schedels Weltchronik printed at Nuremberg in 1493. As a universal history it followed its predecessors in many respects. However, the number of its 'realistic' and 'generic' city views surpassed those of other competing universal histories. Moreover, Jerusalem had lost its theological function as the center of the world and was displaced by Nuremberg. The author supposes a connection with the eviction of the Jews from the city in 1498. Later views of Nuremberg, e. g. the one in the Civitates orbis terrarum from 1575, again differ from the one of 1493. The view from the Civitates orbis terrarum is peopled in the foreground in a way that Biddick calls "a 'local ethnography', that is, a 'collection' of various views and perspectives on local aspects of gender, age, class, dress, fabric, hair". ( 236)

Tom Conley investigates "Poetic Mapping. On Villon's Contredictz de Franc Gontier". 'Franc Gontier's Counterdeeds', one of the ballads out of the second part of François Villon's Le Grant Testament, "offers a summary cartography of social contradiction" (246): the poetic space and the physical space of country and city, of brothel and outside world, of seasons, etc.

The editors hope "that each and every one of these essays perturbs that which history supposedly had laid to rest". (xvii) One may agree that this intention could be realized in large part. It is clear and understandable, however, that the reader is mainly confronted with the heterogeneity of the field, and that a number of aspects of 'space' have not been touched in the volume, or only very marginally. The latter particularly has to be emphasized for the varieties of socio- economic space, for parts of gendered space, and for political spaces. On the one hand, the volume may be seen generally as pioneering in the field of medieval studies and its approach to the practices of space; on the other hand, it still only represents a modest and cautious beginning.