English Gothic Misericord Carvings

History from the Bottom Up


English Gothic Misericord Carvings: History from the Bottom Up by Betsy Chunko-Dominguez is the first book to move beyond textual dependence and traditional iconographic analysis when examining misericords. It likewise builds the most thorough discussion to date of the relationship between the misericord’s several potential audiences – including patron, craftsman, occupant of the seat, and modern viewer.
Beyond the bounds of misericord studies, there are implications here for study of the relationship between center and margin in late medieval art; and, indeed, what constitutes ‘center’ and ‘margin’ as conceptual realms. Ultimately, this book attempts both to re-integrate the study of misericords into the study of Gothic art in general, and to re-center them in relation to our understanding of late medieval culture.
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Biographical Note

Betsy Chunko-Dominguez, Ph.D. (2012), University of Virginia, is Professor of Art History at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Her research focuses on forms of late medieval marginalia.

Table of contents

Acknowledgments vii
List of Illustrations viii
Notes on Permissions xi
List of Abbreviations xii
Introduction: History from the “Bottom Up” 1
1 Meaning(s) and Medieval Misericords 7
Literacy and the Viewer 9
An Iconographic Dilemma 13
Signa and Res 21
The Case for Hybridity 30
2 Violent Women and the Clerical Gaze 33
Touch and Trope 38
“Wykked Wyves” 45
The Clerical Gaze 51
3 The Abject and Uncanny Human Form 55
Illness and Abjection 57
Scatology and Obscaena 65
Ungodly Peoples 71
Conflated Realities 76
4 The Subject as Sign: Iconography of the Lay Classes 85
Images and Fiction 88
At Home and in the Fields 94
“Folk” Iconography 105
Peasants Behaving Badly 111
5 Image and Anxiety: Iconography of Hell and Damnation 121
To Partake with Devils 123
Dark Visions, Corporeal Fears 128
Doleful Realities 136
Afterword: The Vanishing Mediator 143
Appendix: Dating the Misericords of Fairford 149
Bibliography 160
Index 182


All interested in the study of medieval art, particularly those studying marginalia, as well as those in various fields of medieval studies, such as literature and history.


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