Shifting Mediality: Visualizing Lyric Texts

Marisa Galvez

in Songbook

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780226280516
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226280523 | DOI:
Shifting Mediality: Visualizing Lyric Texts

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  • Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)


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This chapter treats the visualization of lyric texts in songbooks by examining marginalia, historiated initials, and full-page miniatures from Occitan and Middle High German songbooks. Such images are essential for understanding not only how readers understood lyric texts but also the relation of vernacular lyric to Medieval visual culture. The chapter discusses how visual media were essential to rising secular institutions such as the imperial ambitions of Alfonso X and Frederick II. By depicting themselves as troubadour-kings, these thirteenth-century rulers appropriated a troubadour culture shaped by songbooks as part of an imperial program of legitimacy; their portraits demonstrate the wider significance of songbooks for understanding the politics of cultural production during this period. The chapter analyzes the Codex Manesse and shows how emblematic author portraits function rhetorically as readings of lyric texts in conjunction with other images both intrinsic and external to the book. The miniatures of the Codex Manesse demonstrate how readers applied medieval principles of rhetoric and translation to attribute value to vernacular lyric as “poetry.”

Keywords: songbooks; lyrics; culture; Medieval period; rhetoric

Chapter.  19106 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)

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