Lauren Rozenberg (UCL) - 2016-17 Students

The cognitive phantasm and material perception of Christ in late medieval parchment culture

Medieval theologians described the phantasm as a physical change where an image, produced by an interaction between an object and one’s senses, is received by the common sense, the first cavity of the brain. In the absence the original sensible object, the soul turns to the phantasm, the mental image that is the trace of the sensation, to think about and understand the material world. Because of such affirmation as thirteenth-century philosophers that it is the association between phantasm and the material world that is required to permit someone’s mind to think, the phantasm needs to be acknowledged as a powerful player regarding medieval devotional culture. This research project aims to highlight how a sensory stimulation toward the body of Christ, throughout parchment, was understood to play a formative role into the self-recognition of a medieval subject and its devotional practices, as well as self-identification thanks to the immaterial objects of cognition, the phantasm. This project will then question the link between material culture and cognition in Christian devotion, through skin-focused representations that led to an awareness of oneself’s corporeal materiality.

Back to the top