• Zu viel des Guten? Materielle Kultur und sinnliche Wahrnehmung im frühen Mittelalter

    Matthias Friedrich (see profile)
    Archaeology, Germanic peoples, Senses and sensation in art, Aesthetics
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    Too Much of a Good Thing? Early Medieval Material Culture and Sensory Perception By engaging with concepts of material agency and approaches put forward in line with an Archaeology of the Senses or ‘Sensory Archaeology,’ this article examines aesthetics and sensory perception of material and visual culture in the early medieval West. Although previous studies have categorised post-Roman ‘Germanic’ art in terms of ethnic identity, religion, and mythology, here it is argued that early medieval art—especially ornamentation epitomised by ‘animal art’—produced an aesthetic that prompted variety (varietas). Aesthetic variety in art and literature produced complex sensory responses that also characterise the highly ornamented and multi-coloured material culture produced in the Early Middle Ages, ranging from ecclesiastical to personal objects. In this respect, aesthetic variety pivots on curiosity (curiositas) in a way that was only later linked to the negative notions of splendour or sumptuousness present in medieval Christian thought. Even today, early medieval art is all too often written off as a form of ‘barbaric splendour,’ set against the purity and realism of Greek and Roman art. However, aesthetic variety is a quality that bridged classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages—with respect to sensory perception in early medieval material culture, one couldn’t have ‘too much of a good thing.’
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    9 months ago
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