In Cistercian Architecture and Medieval Society Maximilian Sternberg offers an account of the social functions of the built environment in medieval monasticism. Few medieval monuments hold so privileged a place in the modern imagination as Cistercian abbeys, yet Sternberg suggests, it is precisely our own, peculiarly modern fascination with the idea of 'Cistercian aesthetics' that has hindered a full view of the complex social meanings of their architecture. This book draws attention instead to the practical and symbolic means by which architecture helped the Cistercians to negotiate the dense web of relations that, in actuality, bound them to other spheres of medieval society. It explores the permeability of monastic boundaries, and considers their effectiveness in reconciling a simultaneous need for interaction and distance between monastic communities and these other social spheres.
Maximilian Sternberg, Ph.D. (2007), University of Cambridge, is University Lecturer in Architecture at that university. He is co-author of The Struggle for Jerusalem's Holy Places (Routledge, forthcoming) and co-editor of Phenomenologies of the City (Ashgate, forthcoming).
“This inspiring book … is a refreshing take on the thirteenth-century Cistercians.”
Karen Stöber, Universitat de Lleida, Catalunya. In: The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 66, No. 4 (2015), pp. 862-863.
"This is a lucid and thought-provoking book. Sternberg offers an acute analysis of the influence of Modernist visions on the development of the scholarly idea of a world-forsaking Cistercian architecture and challenges this idea with rich and insightful case-studies, shedding light on the range of relations between the white monks and medieval society. His astute and reflective work is of interest for students of medieval religion and its societal manifestations and for anyone concerned with the charged emergence of scholarly paradigms."
Mette Birkedal Bruun, University of Copenhagen (unpublished endorsement).
List of illiustrations
A note on translations
PART I. ICONOLOGIES OF CISTERCIAN ARCHITECTURE
1. Medievalist imaginaries
2. Between Romanesque and Gothic
PART II. HORIZONS OF REFORM
3. Monastic and societal renewal
4. Vita activa
PART III. PERMEABLE BOUNDARIES
5. The paradigm of St. Gall
6. From gatehouse to choir screen
7. The inner enclosure
PART IV. CISTERCIANS AND THE CITY
Appendix: List of Cistercian abbeys in the Languedoc
All interested in the history of the religious orders in the High Middle Ages, medieval art and architecture.