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Medieval Manuscript Diagrams, Architectural Structures, and their Relationships: The Case of Chartres Cathedral

Webb, Karen Faye (2010) Medieval Manuscript Diagrams, Architectural Structures, and their Relationships: The Case of Chartres Cathedral. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The purpose of this study is to demonstrate some of the ways in which diagrammatic structures may have informed the layout and experience of architectural space in the middle ages. The Cathedral of Chartres is a unique case because the post-1194 building and its decorative program survive relatively complete and because the preceding century saw at Chartres the emergence of a sophisticated school of thought, many of whose precepts may be shown to bear upon the design of the monument. The writings of William of Conches and John of Salisbury in particular I consider central to an intellectual debate between Chartrain Masters and their intellectual rivals the Cornificians. The library at Chartres still preserves several manuscript copies of medieval texts and commentaries pertinent to this debate. In turn, I suggest this is fundamental to reading the decorative program of the cathedral and to experiencing its spaces. Thus the monument represents a fusion of disciplines which in turn may serve as an enlightening means of understanding the middle ages in general, its art, its architecture, and its viewer.Using the Cathedral of Chartres as an object of study, an environmental experience, and as a multi-vantage point visual dialogue, this dissertation examines the idea of medieval diagrams as templates for medieval architectural construction and conceptualization. By examining the layout of the medieval stained glass that retains its original position, I claim that the themes of the windows serve as placemarkers for diagramming. The windows are also examined individually as separate entities with their own diagrammatic orderings that suggest that the small scale, as well as the large scale, is organized in a diagrammatic way.Ultimately, I suggest that a diagrammatic structure underlies the layout and design of the windows, based on the ideas of Chartrain master William of Conches. I suggest that this diagrammatic structure forms the basis of a discourse between the Chartrains and their intellectual rivals, the Cornificians. Central to the argument is the disposition of the Signs of the Zodiac in the cathedral and a calendrical layout for the hagiographic windows.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Webb, Karen Fayekfw4@pitt.eduKFW4
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairStones, M
Committee MemberShear, Adamashear@pitt,edu
Committee MemberWeis, Anneweis@pitt.eduWEIS
Committee MemberChristian, Kathleenkwc5@pitt.eduKWC5
Committee MemberHearn, M
Date: 24 June 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 1 March 2010
Approval Date: 24 June 2010
Submission Date: 4 April 2010
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
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: Chartres; Cornificians; Diagrams; Stained Glass
Other ID:, etd-04042010-152342
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:34
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:38


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