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Postdoc and Ph.D. researchers working on memoria: Issue 2, February 2009
Dissertations on the commemoration of the dead
The memorial culture in the Church of St. Nicolas in Utrecht in the late Middle Ages
The late medieval city of Utrecht contained five chapter churches, twenty convents and hospitals with chapels, and four parish churches: the Church of Our Lady (Onze Lieve Vrouwe Minor, a.k.a. the Buurkerk), the Church of St. Jacob (Jacobikerk), the Church of St. Nicolas (Klaaskerk) and the Church of St. Gertrude (Geertekerk).
My research focuses on the memorial practices - the donations, burials and commemorations - in the Klaaskerk. It is a sequel to an earlier research, concerning the (late) medieval interior of the Klaaskerk. In the 15th century in particular, this church was enlarged with a new choir and several chapels. The nave was converted into a hall church. This increase in size was part of the reason why the number of altars in the Klaaskerk increased during the late Middle Ages. There were sixteen altars, of which only four fell under the direct responsibility of the church wardens. Of the remaining altars, two were entrusted to local guilds and nine were entrusted to fraternities.
Researching the memorial culture of the Klaaskerk is possible thanks to the historical sources, which are still available to us today. During this research I wish to concentrate on the interaction between the parishioners and the church building. Who were the donors in the parish and how did their donations take shape? Who was buried where in the church? And which shape did the memorial culture take in the various guilds and fraternities? I hope to gain insight in the patterns of donations, burials and commemorations in this parish church, and to determine how these developed over time.
Institutional settings of remembrance of the dead could be instrumental in sustaining awareness of different kinds of relationships. In medieval society people were expected to care for their own souls and for the souls of their relatives. One was expected to support both the living and the deceased family members. So the remembrance of the dead opened up the possibilities to strengthen the ties between the family members, even those who were separated from each other by several generations.
The main objective of my research is to investigate how the remembrance of the dead contributed to the establishment and the expression of identity, and to the self representation of families in the Late Middle Ages. For this, different kinds of sources, including texts (mainly administrative memorial registers such as registers of burial places and registers of memorial services, gifts and foundations) and objects (artifacts with a commemorative function such as gravestones, effigies, tombs and paintings), will be studied in detail. In the quantitative analysis I will focus on the reconstruction of the groups from the entries from the administrative registers. This will be complemented with case studies on specific families, for which the richness of sources with commemorative functions makes in depth analysis possible.
Why did medieval donors donate stained glass windows to churches and which 'messages' were these windows supposed to convey to their viewers? In my research project, I intend to examine medieval stained glass windows and their various functions. A donor could donate a window to a church or to an ecclesiastical institution for devotional, social, political, personal and memorial reasons, to name just a few possibilities. Furthermore, a stained glass windows could easily have more than one intended function. This leads to the following question: how did the intended functions of these stained glass windows affect their design, composition, iconography, location - in short: their appearance within the receiving churches?
In my research project I will conduct a broad comparative study of all still existing Dutch and Belgian churches with medieval stained glass windows. This will hopefully uncover more information about the various aspects which influenced the forms and functions of stained glass windows.
This research is concerned with the religious, social and economic aspects of memoria in late medieval Kampen, Doesburg and Zutphen. What kind of provisions did the citizens of these Hanseatic cities arrange to secure the salvation of their souls? Did the different social groups in the cities (e.g. merchants, nobility) have their own, specific memorial rituals? What was the social position of the founders of memorial masses in the urban monasteries and parish churches? What was the relationship between the founders of the masses and the religious institutions? Answering these questions will give insight into the several religious and secular factors that determined the form, location and function of memorial foundations late medieval cities.
Dissertations on other aspects of the culture of commemoration
Social, or collective, memory studies in biblical research are still relatively new. Much of the research is currently in its theoretical and methodological phase, but its potential for opening up new perspectives would be enhanced by in-depth studies of specific texts. My PhD research undertakes a close and careful reading of the literary contexts in which Paul employs the term kaine diatheke ('new covenant') in order to gauge its use as both a social boundary marker and mnemonic device. Paul only employs this term in the Corinthian correspondence, first in 1 Cor 11:25 when he is quoting the tradition of the Lord's supper, and then again in 2 Cor 3:6 where he is countering opponents and uses antithetical language of 'old' and 'new' covenants. In 1 Cor Paul was writing to a community riven by internal conflicts. Within a relatively short period of time, however, Paul found himself involved in a conflict with members of the Corinthian community as well. 2 Cor displays a Paul on the defensive, polemically and apologetically defending his apostolic ministry and seeking to win back the Corinthian communities onto his side.
Since conflict situations provide the occasion for identity negotiation and group formation, Paul's use of 'new covenant' within these two contexts allows me to explore the range of the term as an identity marker. In addition, recent memory theory on ritual embedding, narrativization, and counter-memory, also help make the case for viewing 'new covenant' as a mnemonic term, given the ritual and anamnetic associations of 'new covenant' in 1 Cor 11, and its subsequent embedding in a 'counter-narrative' of Moses' glory in 2 Cor 3.
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This page was last updated on: October 7th, 2010
December 16th, 2016:
The seventeenth issue of Medieval Memoria Research is now available.
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The sixteenth issue of Medieval Memoria Research is now available.
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The fifteenth issue of Medieval Memoria Research is now available.
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September 12th, 2012:
The tenth issue of Medieval Memoria Research is now available. This is a double issue so be sure to check out both Part One and Part Two.
March 6th, 2012:
The ninth issue of Medieval Memoria Research is now available! In this issue you will find many new book announcements and information on projects dedicated to digitising memorial registers.