Imago Mortis

Mediating Images of Death in Late Medieval Culture


In Imago Mortis: Mediating Images of Death in Late Medieval Culture, Ashby Kinch argues for the affirmative quality of late medieval death art and literature, providing a new, interdisciplinary approach to a well-known body of material. He demonstrates the surprising and effective ways that late medieval artists appropriated images of death and dying as a means to affirm their artistic, social, and political identities. The book dedicates each of its three sections to a pairing of a visual convention (deathbed scenes, the Three Living and Three Dead, and the Dance of Death) and a Middle English literary text (Hoccleve’s Lerne for to die, Audelay’s Three Dead Kings, and Lydgate’s Dance of Death).

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EUR €156.00USD $203.00

Biographical Note

Ashby Kinch, Ph.D (2000) is Associate Professor of English at The University of Montana. He has co-edited a book and published several articles on Alain Chartier, as well as numerous articles on medieval death art and Middle English literature.

Review Quotes

"...Kinch traces how visual and verbal artists draw on, adapt, and transform each other’s traditions in ways that are sometimes complementary, sometimes competitive, and nearly always in the service of making death more palatable to their powerful patrons. It would have been significantly easier to study one or two of these topics more deeply and in isolation, but it is in teasing out this vast network that Imago Mortis does its most valuable work... Any chapter in Imago Mortis could serve as a useful model in graduate and advanced undergraduate seminars. I also want to note that the book is unusually readable: a boon to any reader, but one that is vital for introducing students to rigorous scholarship..."
Bridget Whearty, in Digital Philology: A Journal of Medieval Cultures, Volume 4, Number 2, Fall 2015, pp. 301-304

Table of contents

List of Figures ... vii
Preface ... xiii

Introduction: The Mediating Image of Death ... 1

Section One: Facing Death
1: “Yet mercie thou shal have”: Affirmative Visions of Dying in Illustrations of Henry Suso’s “De Scientia” ... 35
2: Verbo-Visual Mirrors of Mortality in Thomas Hoccleve’s “Lerne for to Die” ... 69

Section Two: Facing the Dead
3: Commemorating Power in the Legend of the Three Living and Three Dead ... 109
4: Spiritual, Artistic, and Political Economies of Death: Audelay’s Three Dead Kings and the Lancastrian Cadaver Tomb ... 145

Section Three: The Community of Death
5: “My stile I wille directe”: Lydgate and the Bedford Workshop Reinvent the Danse Macabre ... 185
6: The Parlementaire , the Mayor, and the Crisis of Community in the Danse Macabre ... 227

Epilogue: The Afterlives of Medieval Images of Death ... 261

Bibliography ... 281
Index ... 297


All interested in death art (Three Living and Three Dead, the Dance of Death), late Middle English literature, and text-image relationships in medieval art, including theory of the image.

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