Worlds Within: Opening the Medieval Shrine Madonna by Elina Gertsman

Worlds Within: Opening the Medieval Shrine Madonna

byElina Gertsman

Hardcover | April 9, 2015

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In Worlds Within, Elina Gertsman investigates the Shrine Madonnas, or Vierges ouvrantes—sculptures that conceal within their bodies complex carved and/or painted iconographies. The Shrine Madonna emerged in Europe at the end of the 1200s and reached a peak of popularity during the following three centuries. Gertsman argues that the appearance of these objects—predicated as they are on the dynamic of concealment, revelation, and fragmentation—points to the changing roles of vision and sensation in the complex, performative ways in which audiences were expected to engage with devotional images, both in public and in private. Worlds Within considers these fascinating sculptures in terms of the rhetoric of secrecy, the discourse of containment, and the tropes of unveiling. Gertsman demonstrates how the statues were associated with the processes of seeing and memory-making and how they functioned as instruments of revelatory knowledge and spiritual reformation in the context of late medieval European culture.

About The Author

Elina Gertsman is Associate Professor of Art History at Case Western Reserve University. Elina Gertsman is Associate Professor of Art History at Case Western Reserve University.
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Details & Specs

Title:Worlds Within: Opening the Medieval Shrine MadonnaFormat:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 10 × 9 × 0.6 inPublished:April 9, 2015Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271064013

ISBN - 13:9780271064017

Customer Reviews of Worlds Within: Opening the Medieval Shrine Madonna


Extra Content

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations


Introduction: A Cause of Error

1 Secrets: Revealing Bodies, Fragmented Vision

2 Ruptures: Holy Anatomy, Affective Obstetrics

3 Play: Animate Substance, Uncanny Performance

4 Imprints: Hybrid Memories, Interior Journeys

Postscript: The Excavated Body

Appendix: Shrine Madonnas ca. 1270–ca. 1500, in Approximate Chronological Order




Editorial Reviews

“Worlds Within is beautifully produced, with many full-color reproductions and high-quality paper that makes for a sumptuous reading experience. The inclusion of a gatefold of the Rhenish Shrine Madonna at the Met is a clever touch, allowing readers to enact an approximation of the opening and closing of the shrine. This sense of playfulness, in both the text and the book itself, reminds us that late medieval devotion itself was often playful. It is a welcome approach, and the wide range of possible approaches to the Shrine Madonna presents a model for interdisciplinary research. Worlds Within is an important contribution to current scholarship on late medieval devotion and will surely become a standard text for students and scholars alike.”—Johanna Seasonwein, CAA.Reviews