More than any other secular story of the Middle Ages, the tale of Tristan and Isolde fascinated its audience. Adaptations in poetry, prose, and drama were widespread in western European vernacular languages. Visual portrayals of the story appear not only in manuscripts and printed books but in individual pictures and pictorial narratives, and on an amazing array of objects including stained glass, wall paintings, tiles, tapestries, ivory boxes, combs, mirrors, shoes, and misericords.
The pan-European and cross-media nature of the surviving medieval evidence is not adequately reflected in current Tristan scholarship, which largely follows disciplinary and linguistic lines. The contributors to Visuality and Materiality in the Story of Tristan and Isolde seek to address this problem by opening a cross-disciplinary dialogue and by proposing a new set of intellectual coordinates—the concepts of materiality and visuality—without losing sight of the historical specificity or the aesthetic character of individual works of art and literature. Their theoretical paradigm allows them to survey the richness of the surviving evidence from a variety of disciplinary approaches, while offering new perspectives on the nature of representation in medieval culture. Enriched by numerous illustrations, this volume is an important examination of the story of Tristan and Isolde in the European context of its visual and textual transmission.
"Comprehensive and cutting edge, Visuality and Materiality in the Story of Tristan and Isolde defines the moment in the history of Tristan scholarship. The essays, gathered from both sides of the Atlantic, enrich and expand the key concepts of materiality and visuality to account for the proliferation of the Tristan story in an astonishing range of media. The collection gives scholars in several disciplines the tools to explore the productive connections between the verbal and the visual in medieval culture." —Sarah Westphal-Wihl, Washington University in St. Louis
"This is a major collection of essays that gives new direction to the study of one of the most important poets of the Middle Ages and one of the most fascinating works of literature from the period." —C. Stephen Jaeger, University of Illinois