Seeing and Sinners : Spatial Stratification and the Medieval Hagioscopes of Gotland

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Stockholms universitet/Historiska institutionen

Sammanfattning: The hagioscope—a small tunnel or opening usually set at eye-level in a church wall—is a complex and multifaceted device that appears in Europe during the late medieval period. Despite an increased interest in the  history of the senses, the hagioscope has been overlooked until now. Drawing from Hans Georg Gadamer’s ideas  about hermeneutics, Jacques Le Goff’s work on Purgatory, and the medieval intellectual Peter of Limoges’ thoughts on vision, this study aims to shed light on why the hagioscope appeared when it did and how it may  have been used.   This case study of the hagioscope concerns the known hagioscopes with connected cells on the island of Gotland.  It is introduced with two themes that combined, create a conceptual understanding of the hagioscope: the first is the device as a physical boundary or spatial division in a church room resulting from changes in theology and liturgy and the second is the device in the context of a medieval discourse on visuality, derived from the widespread thirteenth century treatise, De oculi morali. With this understanding in mind, the last chapter presents and discusses previous theories on the Gotland hagioscopes. In contrast with previous research, this thesis proves that the cells of Gotland are clearly of two different kinds: earlier cells are small, lack windows and have trefoil-shaped hagioscopes and a deep niche that significantly distances the observer from the nave. Later cells are bigger, equipped with a single window, have a niche spatially closer to the nave, and have differently shaped hagioscopes.

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