Document Type

Forum Theme 1


The juxtaposition of these two terms would surprise few, for who would question that the medieval edifice and the study of it in archaeology and art history, and its use in promoting religious, political, social, or aesthetic ideologies since the fifteenth century is a rich subject of medievalism? And yet, at three recent conferences dedicated to the subject: La Cathédrale (2000), The Idea of the Gothic Cathedral (2005), and L'imaginaire moderne de la cathédrale (2006), medievalism as a point of view or even point of departure for the discussions about modern representations of the Gothic edifice, was practically non-existent. This might be explained by the fact that the majority of scholars were focusing on modern discursive or visual techniques for representing the cathedral, in which context medievalism might be considered retrograde. Of course, it may also be that the medieval origins of the Gothic edifice are entirely taken for granted, which makes medievalism seem superfluous; more likely, however, is that since most of the speakers hail from the French Academy, which until recently, has conveniently ignored that a medieval revival or medievalism even existed in classically-oriented France, medievalism is an unfamiliar discourse.1 And yet, looking beyond the national discourses which have created or neglected medievalism, it is evident that the Gothic cathedral touches upon such a wide array of fields of study that perhaps medievalism falls short of encompassing the rich plethora of meanings and interpretations of the Gothic edifice. Indeed, after more than a decade of research on the subject, I have become convinced that the Gothic cathedral and its reception both in academic fields as well as in literature, the visual arts and music often transcend medievalism and constitute a discourse of their own.

Publication Date

Spring 2006

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©2006 Stephanie A. Glaser



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