Notes: week 8


Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae & De natura rerum
British Library Harley MS 2660 (1136)


  • reading: psychometry / psychogeography / psychomachia, the multiplicity of impediments (ex. Wealth), Pygmalion, structure, (compositional) shape (Roman de la Rose 4-9, 44-45, 53-59, 154-158, 229-233, 236-245, 319-326)
  • music in class this week:
    Hildegard of Bingen, The Origin of Fire – Music and Visions (Anonymous 4)
    —, Canticles of Ecstasy (Sequentia)
    (attrib.) Alfonso X, Cantigas de Santa Maria (Sequentia)


1 Discussion of blog questions & comments on week 7

2 Geometry and geography


Beatus of Liébana, Commentary on the Apocalypse
BNF MS lat. 8878 (11th c.)


1 Student presentation & class discussion

2 Geometry, geography, and geology

  • human external spatial relations, relationship to physical space, environment:
    —the idea of adventure and quest especially in romance; related, pilgrimage; distinction from exploration, discovery, and conquest
    British Library Royal MS 14 C VII: Matthew Paris, mapping the journey from London to Jerusalem
    Hereford Mappa Mundi project
  • human internal space:
    —as a man-made imaginary construct and artificial creation
    —psychomachia, psychometry, and psychology; the “minor” but instrumental characters:
    Wealth, Poverty, Hunger (154-158)
    Rebuff (“Resistance”; Dangiers), Shame, Evil Tongue, Fear (44-45)
    those four guardians + Jealousy (53-59)
    Rebuff , Fear, Shame (229-233)
    Venus vs Shame & Fear (319-320)
    On Dangiers: see People of Color in Medieval Art History > Roman de la Rose here and here
  • human artifice, artefacts, design, architecture, and art:
    —reading (broad sense) man-made physical spaces in the Rose: the garden wall decorated with carved images (bas-relief sculpture) and painting (4-9): (L-R) Cruelty, Hate, Baseness, Covetousness, Avarice, Envy, Sorrow, Old Age, Religious Hypocrisy, Poverty
    Inside, the art of textiles and fashion (10-20): the doorkeeper, Idleness; inside, birds, Pleasure & Joy, the God of Love & Pleasant Looks & Beauty, Wealth & her lover, Largesse & Arthurian knight, Generosity of Spirit & young man, Courtesy (the first to speak to the lover, 13) & knight, Youth & her lover
    —the story of Pygmalion and Galatea, embedded within the description of another three-dimensional art-work, a tiny silver image-statue-reliquary (321-26);
    which is also used as a device to bring “relics” and “pilgrimage” into the grand OTT mixed metaphor of the “conquest” of the “Rose”

Points to Ponder & sneak previews of next week:

  • Looking at reliquaries, in association with Astronomy work of looking at astronomical instruments
  • QUESTION TO CONSIDER: the story of Pygmalion, its relationship to Genius on creativity (vs Nature: see next week’s reading), and considering what the difference is between:
    a stone-mason and a sculptor?
    a carpenter and a carver?
    a metal-worker or a smith and a jeweller (we can also discuss the interesting in-between-or-both case of goldsmith & silversmith)?
    craft and art?
  • Art, psychogeography (see also: Rhetoric group notes), and ideas of making and finding, materials and sense, and making sense of and understanding:
    ex. entendemen, Troubadour poetry about trobar, and the use of sens & matiere in prologues to Marie de France’s Lais and Fables and to some of Chrétien de Troyes’s romances
    ex. in 20th c. plastic & visual arts: Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Bill Reid, Kenojuak Ashevak, Louise Bourgeois
    also Aristotle Poetics

British Library Harley MS 4425 f. 14v