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Race and the Romanesque: Visualizing Blackness Between Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, 1000-1250

Lombard, Jacqueline Marie (2022) Race and the Romanesque: Visualizing Blackness Between Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, 1000-1250. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation examines racial discourses in works of art from Northern Europe and the Mediterranean in the eleventh through thirteenth centuries. Through four chapters, I examine images of Black figures, many of which have been overlooked because of where they were produced or because they because their physical features do not readily align with modern expectations for how Blackness "should" look. Positioning images alongside contemporaneous textual discourses of race, I examine how medieval artists articulated the identities of their subjects in culturally specific ways that did not always attend to how their subjects might have actually looked in life. I explore how visual languages of race intersected with ideas about gender, class, and religion, and how artists created complex matrixes of meaning in medieval figural representations.
Chapter 1 introduces this project. Chapter 2 then looks to a group of seven ivory, bone, and wood boxes produced in eleventh- and twelfth-century Norman Sicily and southern Italy that incorporated Black dancers alongside fantastic beasts and hunting scenes to create an exoticized vision of Mediterranean courtly delights. Chapter 3 examines how twelfth-century coins from Magdeburg represented Saint Maurice, the first known widely venerated Black Saint in Europe. These coins, I argue, offer a variety of interpretations on Maurice's appearance, which do not contradict one another but rather indicate how artists drew upon multiple conventions of representation to visualize Maurice's identity as a Black soldier saint. Chapter 4 foregrounds a range of images of the Queen of Sheba from across northern Europe to continue to interrogate how northern European artists navigated extant visual languages and ideals to portray Black protagonists. This chapter explores how twelfth-century ideas of femininity and virtue – visualized through white European ideals of beauty – were developed in opposition to those of sin and villainy, which were visualized through dark skin, curly hair, and facial features deemed outside the European norm. The final chapter turns to the thirteenth century, where most studies of Blackness in medieval Europe begin, to trace how shifting discourses around the body made physical differences more visible in medieval European art than they previously had been.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Lombard, Jacqueline Mariejackie.lombard@gmail.comjml1830000-0003-1960-4528
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairFozi,
Committee MemberNygren,
Committee MemberSavage,
Committee MemberPatton,
Date: 16 June 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 25 March 2022
Approval Date: 16 June 2022
Submission Date: 8 April 2022
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 229
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History of Art and Architecture
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Medieval; Race; Representation; Saint Maurice; The Queen of Sheba; Gothic; Romanesque
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2022 21:52
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2024 05:15


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