Portals and Preaching: Image and Word

Stephen Murray

in A Gothic Sermon

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2004 | ISBN: 9780520238473
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930070 | DOI:
Portals and Preaching: Image and Word

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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The ability to identify a scene such as the Annunciation or the story of invention of the relics of the local saint is believed to require prior knowledge acquired through oral or written communication. One wonders how the “showing and telling” on the part of teachers and cathedral guides might have been practiced in the Middle Ages. Responses to the rhetorical strategies employed by the preacher to engage his audience's attention might well have been matched in the responses of ordinary folk to the sculpture. They might have seen themselves in the images of rural life and local people carved in the quatrefoils and tympanum of the left portal; they might have chuckled at the amusing carnal images crouching in the consoles of the solemn column figures. Memory operates differently in relation to patterns of thought enunciated through the spoken word and those enunciated through images.

Keywords: Annunciation; relics; Middle Ages; quatrefoils; tympanum

Chapter.  4501 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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