This week at CEMERS: Elina Gertsman, Case Western Reserve University

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 5.26.37 PMThis paper considers the late medieval concept of despair as a framework for exploring patterns of emotional response to Hieronymus Bosch’s Christ Carrying the Cross. My discussion situates Bosch’s painting within a fraught topic of debate between social constructivists and proponents of universal emotions theory, asking whether we can interpret Bosch’s spiritually arduous image through the lens of the emotional communities that cohere around it. Art historians commonly describe protagonists of late medieval religious images as models for compassionate imitation; I nuance this approach by worrying the complex synergy between devotional treatises and emotional expression, as located in and challenged by later medieval material culture.

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